David Wishart’s Marcus Corvinus series has developed well. However this latest offering is a little formulaic. There is a tendancy for Marcus to spend a day sleuthing and then to summarise what he’s learnt to Perilla – you get the mild impression it’s to ensure the reader hasn’t missed anything.
The premise of this installment – a murder of the White’s chariot first team Leader, Pegasus, right under Marcus’ nose – is to enter the murky underworld of Rome’s Circus Maximus, chariot racing, racing-throwing and the factions of Green, Red and Blue, White. Wishart creates a credible picture of life at the races, building a suitable tight-lipped and close-bunched set of teams and fans and Corvinus has to pick his way through lot to establish motive. Everyone has one, of course, and it appears that for all the expressions of closed doors each team is more closely interwoven than would be evident at first glance.
Glee clubs, personal feuds, elopement and Bathyllus’ love-sick state of mind all provide another fun outing in Marcus Corvinus’ Rome.
It is written as well as ever. We are, by now, very comfortable with the main characters, yet the plot and the denouement are, perhaps, not as complex as they could be ; with the result the strong suspicions of who the culprit(s) is/are from the opening chapters end up being confirmed. So, not Marcus’ best outing, but, as a series, long may Corvinus continue…