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Finished Business: A Marcus Corvinus Mystery Set in Ancient Rome Hardcover – 31 Jul 2014

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Creme de la Crime; First World Publication edition (31 July 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780290632
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780290638
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 14.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 443,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"This thoroughly enjoyable mystery is bound to keep Lindsey Davis fans entertained." Library Journal

About the Author

David Wishart studied Classics at Edinburgh University and spent several years teaching in schools and at University.


Customer Reviews

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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Marcus Corvinus is back for his sixteenth outing and this time he's tied up with the demise of Emperor Caligula. No spoilers there...it's a widely publicised historical fact. Ths time he's pulled into the sleuthing business by the forceful honey trap that is one Lady Naevia Postumia, whose ex-husband - Lucius Naevius Surdinus - didn't die from falling masonry quite as accidentally as the perpetrators would like to have Rome believe.
At least, that's what her spirit guide, Alexander the Great no less, would have us believe. He might have a point because Marcus' subsequent reluctant investigations reveal a death that's tied into wider conspiracies at the very highest level. Of course, having established the death was a murder and produced a witness to the actual killer, Corvinus has to go find both motive and employer of the murderer. The family are good starting points what with the conniving Tarquitia, the young mistress of our dead ex-suffect consul who inherited a lot of property and money to the displeasure of Lucius Junior. Then there's the youngest son, Hellenus, who's estranged from his family and living as an "artist" in the slums of Rome. Add into the mix people like Gallio, the dead man's bailiff, Tarquitia's husband, Titus Otillius, a lawyer by the name of Venullius,
All of this doesn't really provide any clarity for our sleuth and his usual adumbration with Perilla throws up more questions than answers.
This means Corvinus has to examine further and finds himself investigating the political circles around Surdinus which leads him into the sphere of Cassius Longinus, just recalled to Rome by Caligula from his Asia governorship, the two Gaulish senators, stoical Julius Graecinus and oleaginous Anicius Cerialis, and one Valerius Asiaticus.
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Format: Hardcover
Marcus Corvinus is in a grumpy mood, largely brought on by the misery of spending time in Rome during a particularly wet November. It's all to the good, then, when Naevia Postuma arrives on his doorstep with just the type of distracting puzzle he likes. Postuma's uncle, Naevius Surdinus, is dead, squashed beneath a piece of masonry that toppled from a tower he was having renovated on his estate. Postuma insists that this was no accident. It was murder and she's completely certain of this because Alexander told her so. That'll be Alexander the Great.

Never one not to roll his eyes at the eccentricities and foibles of Rome's elite (and non-elite), Marcus's interest is caught. Not because Postuma believes she is advised by the dead, but because the deceased is an old family friend of Marcus's wife, Perilla. In fact, Surdinus wrote to Perilla just four days before he died, enclosing a philosophical tract. Surdinus believed he was about to die and once Marcus begins to investigate his family he can understand why.

Marcus Corvinus is my favourite Roman detective and it is so good to see him engaged on another mystery, supported as he always is by Perilla and well-served as he always is by his mind-reading, dry and pithy major-domo Bathyllus and his temperamental, high-maintenance and extraordinarily gifted chef Meton. Quite apart from knowing exactly how to make me laugh, Marcus is also extremely able at sniffing out crime, being something of an otherwise idle aristocrat. His current case is especially satisfying because it appears to be all about Roman broken families.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Marcus Corvinus' investigations into an accidental death (claimed by the ghost of Alexander the Great to have been a murder) lead him into a much greater and more dangerous investigation. Helped greatly by his intellectual wife, Perilla, to say nothing of the occasional glass of wine, Corvinus finds himself in much too close contact with the increasingly-erratic Emperor Caligula, not only at one of his renowned dinners, but also below the palace, in the torture chambers....

The plot is complex, but impossible to put down, as the story races from opulent private houses to much less salubrious parts of Rome, with likable rogues, nasty bullyboys, unlikely rescuers, noble and not so noble political leaders, to say nothing of his own temperamental chef, his snobbish butler, and the light relief of a new addition to the family. Throughout all Corvinus' chatty narration, there's a definite feeling of a race against time before what? will happen, and an always-present chill up the spine, which needs the almost hysterical relief provided by a clever, amusing phrase, such as the description of one character being 'several tiles short of a watertight roof'; I do hope the author won't mind if I keep that for future use.

Having read all of the previous Marcus Corvinus books, I have to say that this is, for me, the best to date. It must be a sign of the author's great skill that the story seemed to flow in an effortless fashion, using Corvinus' and his wife's speculations to draw the reader deeper into the investigation, straining to follow their arguments and make sense out of the information they have at each stage.
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