Dead Men's Sandals (Marcus Corvinus #21) by David Wishart - Book Review

Write on: Thu, 31 Dec 2020 by  in Assaph's Reviews Read 1841

I love the Corvinus mysteries, so was excited to see a new one out.

What to Expect

Straight off the boat on his return from the last case in Carthage, Corvinus' is summoned by a gangster boss (a favourite recurring character) and a favour he owes is called. Now he finds himself going to Brundisium, to solve a murder of another crime boss -- where the locals are none to keen to have him poke around, and everyone's guilty of something.

Expect the usual Corvinus crime mystery, this time a bit like The Sopranos in ancient Rome.

What I liked

I love Corvinus' voice. Though the modern language is polarising readers, it reads a bit like Sam Spade in sandals instead of gumshoes, and it's a great vibe to the series. Wishart has deep knowledge about the Classics and Rome, and certainly keeps the period real -- in customs, curiosities, and events -- even if he mostly avoid Latin for the vernacular. Getting back to the series is like meeting an old friend again.

What to be aware of

This is volume 21 in the series, but as the case is standalone you can jump right in. (The series has two lines: a "political" side that explores real events, and general historical-mysteries. The first is ideally read in order, but this is one of the latter). There are references to and appearances by recurring characters, but nothing you can't pick up as you go.

Felix's Review

Felix adores Corvinus' tenacity and logic, his skills at theorising and working through leads to expose the murderer with flair. He had his own run-ins with the shadier elements of society, and admires Corvinus' willingness to walk into the lion's den and spit in its eye. Something to do with generation of patrician breeding, no doubt, that Felix, conniving rascal that he is, still finds hard to emulate.


If you've been following the series so far, you won't be disappointed. If you're new to Corvinus, you can jump right in here to get a feel (and then go back to the start to devour them all).

Enjoying the reviews, but wondering who the heck is that Felix fellow? Glad you asked! He's the protagonist of the Toags, Daggers, and Magic series, an historical-fantasy blend of a paranormal detective on the background of ancient Rome.


Assaph has been a bibliophile since he learnt to read at the age of five, and a Romanophile ever since he first got his hands on Asterix, way back in elementary school. This exacerbated when his parents took him on a trip to Rome and Italy - he whinged horribly when they dragged him to "yet another church with baby angels on the ceiling", yet was happy to skip all day around ancient ruins and museums for Etruscan art. 

He has since been feeding his addiction for books with stories of mystery and fantasy of all kinds. A few years ago he randomly picked a copy of a Lindsay Davis' Marcus Didius Falco novel in a used book fair, and fell in love with Rome all over again, this time from the view-point of a cynical adult. His main influences in writing are Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Barry Hughart and Boris Akunin. 

Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, kids, cats, and - this being Australia - assorted spiders. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he's writing - he seems to do his best writing after midnight.



Twitter: @assaphmehr