Review of ‘No Cause for Concern’ by David Wishart (Marcus Corvinus 14)

15829793This mystery has Marcus Corvinus being forced by the shadier side of Rome’s underworld to investigate the disappearance of a family member. In this case Titus, one adopted son of Sempronius Eutacticus, “organized crime’s equivalent of a crocodile with attitude.” The lad’s gone missing and his stepfather’s not someone you deny anything. All of which means Rufia Perilla’s husband is off on a pointless jaunt into the countryside environs of Rome’s towns – like Sutrium – to check out a circus before inevitably finding out the abductee is also murdered; oh plus his slave.
What follows is Marcus’ usual unraveling of a dodgy tapestry; this one adorned with local gang rivalries, seagulls, cold daughters, gambling hovels, accountancy discrepancies, and a few more deaths. Throw in a character list of nefarious crooks like Paetinius Senior and Younger, Astrapton, Quintus Bellarius, and the goon, Satrius, and Wishart has the ingredients for another fine mystery.
You’ve got the usual twenty-first century vernacular of Wishart liberally peppering Marcus’ speech. When he has our sleuth refer to Cato as “puritanical”, you know the author doesn’t really care about linguistic historical context too much. Then again, Wishart’s prepared to have us reaching for our dictionaries on occasion too; as when Marcus observes “clutching a mop like it was some apotropaic talisman.”
What does intrigue/impress me slightly is the amount of time Wishart gives over to Marcus’ love of wine. I nearly started Googling some of these to see if they had historical evidence (but never quite managed it). For example our hero imbibes Graviscan, Statonian, Falernian, Velletrian, and Caecuban. It’s hard enough keeping track of the plot without tracking Corvinus’ wine lists.
Anyway, as great as ever. Having seen the front cover on Amazon it smacks of “cheap-as-chips” publishing; I’ve no idea what shenanigans Wishart has had to get up to to continue the Marcus Corvinus mysteries, but I’m glad he’s back. Font sizes and jackets don’t really matter when you’ve got the trusty Kindle, eh?

Categories: Book Reviews, David Wishart

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