In the next Marcus Corvinus adventure, Foreign Bodies, the new emperor Claudius requests some help looking into the death of a family friend. The unfortunate victim was living in Lugdunum, in the wilds of Gaul, and Marcus and Perilla set off traveling on Claudius’ expense account.
Obviously we all love Clau-Clau-Claudius from Robert Graves I,Claudius (Well, not all of us, not my husband, an uncultured lout who wandered away during “don’t touch the figs”), and Wishart’s emperor Claudius is cut from the same autocratic and mildly absent-minded cloth. Or wait, is Claudius just pretending to be fuzzy-headed while actually playing his own clever game? With Claudius, you never know.
Almost immediately, Marcus and Perilla encounter a handsome and egocentric Greek doctor, Domitius Crinas, also heading to the distant provinces on Claudius’ command. Crinas immediately suggests Marcus improve his health by cutting back on the wine, and almost as quickly volunteers to take Perilla sight-seeing. Poor Marcus, down to a strict limit of 4 cups of wine a day, finds himself third-wheeling on Perilla and Crinas’ cultural adventures.
After reading so many Marcus Corvinus adventures, I worried that these would start to be a bit formulaic. I’d be happy to read a dozen tales of Marcus Corvinus stumbles on a corpse, Perilla suggests dropping the case just this once, Marcus goes to investigate a very important lead in a wine-shop, Bathylus and/or Meton scolds him for coming back late, Perilla looks up from her scroll long enough to point Marcus towards the solution, etc., etc., but I was even more excited as this story veered further away.
As usual, Wishart leads readers to a surprising and satisfying conclusion. After the big reveal, it’s easy to see the hints and clues along the way, but I was pretty surprised by the (uh, how to say this in a spoiler-free way?) secret identity.
Foreign Bodies by David Wishart will be released on September 1, 2016