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David Wishart

Historical crime writer David Wishart was born in Arbroath, Scotland. He studied Classics - Latin and Greek - at Edinburgh University and after graduation taught for four years in a secondary school.

He then retrained as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language and worked abroad for eleven years, in Kuwait, Greece and Saudi Arabia. He returned to Scotland in 1990 and now lives with his family in Carnoustie, mixing writing with teaching EFL and study skills at Dundee University.

He is married to Rona, and has two children. He does not play golf but spends a great deal of his non-writing time walking the dog. For more information, click here.  

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Finished Business

November, AD40. When a wealthy consul’s wife asks Corvinus to investigate the death of her uncle, killed by a block of falling masonry at his estate on Vatican Hill, a sceptical Corvinus is inclined to agree with the general verdict of accidental death. But his investigations reveal clear evidence of foul play, as well as unearthing several skeletons among the closets of this well-to-do but highly dysfunctional family.

Who could have wanted Lucius Surdinus dead? His vengeful ex-wife? His ambitious mistress? His disillusioned elder, or his estranged younger, son? Or does the key to the mystery lie in the dead man’s political past?

But when Corvinus’s probing draws him to the attention of the emperor, a dangerously unpredictable Caligula, his prospects of surviving long enough to solve the mystery look slim to say the least. 

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Solid Citizens

December, AD39.

While enjoying the Winter Festival holiday at his adopted daughter's home in the Alban Hills, Marcus Corvinus discovers that an outwardly respectable pillar of the community, local politician Quintus Caesius has been discovered beaten to death at the rear entrance of the town brothel.

Questioning those who knew the victim, Corvinus is dismayed to find Bovillae a place of small town secrets, bitter feuds, malicious gossip and deadly rivalry: a world away from the sophistication of Rome.

As he is to discover, there are several suspects with reason to bear Caesius a grudge. But who would hate him enough to kill him? And what would a supposedly solid citizen be doing visiting the local brothel?

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World Darley Anderson Agency
World English Severn House
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Illegally Dead

When a lawyer is poisoned, Imperial Rome offers no dearth of suspects.

A letter from his adopted daughter Valeria Marilla prompts Roman nobleman and sometime sleuth Marcus Corvinus to venture to Castrimoenium to investigate.

The physician Hyperion, father of Marilla's intended Clarus, has ruled the death of affluent lawyer Hostilius a heart attack but suspects poisoning. The dead man's slaves are logical suspects - indeed, Hyperion has kept his suspicions to himself mostly to spare them from a scorched-earth punishment - but so are several others in the lawyer's immediate circle: his widow Veturina, her brother Castor and Hostilius' law partner Quintus Acceius.

Widening the field of possibilities is an abrupt, unpleasant personality change in the last year or so of Hostilius' life. Only a week earlier, he'd been attacked in the street for no apparent reason.

Corvinus' casual questioning of household and community takes a darker, more urgent turn with the murder of beautiful slave-boy Cosmos, who was notorious for using his body to get what he wanted.

Corvinus is chagrined to learn that Castor and Veturina have been concealing the disappearance of Hostilius' ward Paulina on the day of his death, a fact that turns out to be key to the mystery.

Can no one in Castrimoenium be trusted?

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World Darley Anderson Agency
UK & Commonwealth Hodder & Stoughton
Turkey Pegasus
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In At The Death

*NO. 11 IN THE MARCUS CORVINUS MYSTERY SERIES*

The surprise suicide of a young man with -- apparently -- everything to live for, prompts his family to ask Marcus Corvinus to investigate. All they really want is an explanation. But Marcus's sleuthing uncovers many contradictory elements in the tale, and he is forced to conclude that this wasn't suicide at all, but murder. As usual, he needs Perilla's agile brain to untangle the complexities of the case and the pair come to realise that the suicide scenario has a political, as well as a personal, dimension. As if that's not enough, Corvinus finds his investigations hampered by his new role as reluctant dog-sitter to the seriously misnamed Placida, a Gallic boarhound with a gargantuan appetite and minimal personal hygiene.

‘Like Chandler’s Marlowe, Corvinus wisecracks his way through a weary world of murder and intrigue until he hunts down the truth. A taut thriller in which ancient Rome springs to life’. - The Times

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World Darley Anderson Agency
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Czech Republic Oldag
Greece Kalendis
Hebrew Kinneret
Russia Armada
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Food For The Fishes

‘Him and his fancy fish farm, raking it in hand over fist. He’s a bastard. A greedy bastard. Some people, they’d be better off dead, know what I mean?’

Trebbio was in his cups when he bad-mouthed Licinius Murena, but in vino veritas, as the saying goes. So when Murena was found the next morning, drowned in one of his own eel tanks, not many tears were shed. Certainly not by Trebbio, who had just been booted out of his cottage by the landowner. Nor by the widow, a little stunner half Murena’s age who allegedly spent an inordinate amount of time under the doctor. Nor by his daughter or his farm manager. With friends like these, who needs enemies? Marcus Corvinus is the man to find out. With the help, of course, of his clever wife Perilla – if she can spare the time from her newly acquired passion for gambling…

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Parthain Shot

I’d just totted up the column on the latest tablet for the third time and got my third different answer when there was a knock on the study door…

If there is one thing Marcus Corvinus hates more than doing the household accounts, it’s politics. So when he is interrupted in the former to get involved in the latter, he is not best pleased.

His brief is to conduct an unofficial investigation into an attack on the Parthian Prince Phraates, a task which taxes his (none too) diplomatic skills to the utmost. Then the attack is followed by a successful murder of one of the Parthian delegation and a full diplomatic incident threatens. The Byzantine twists and turns of the case give Corvinus a headache worse than his customary hangover, and it takes a violent threat to Perilla before he begins to get a grip on what is involved. Along the way he learns a lot about the spice trade – and has some problems with a basket of lampreys.

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UK & Commonwealth Hodder & Stoughton
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A Vote For Murder

Marcus Corvinus is already restless after a couple of days in the Alban Hills, visiting his stepdaughter, Marilla; a regular seat in Pontius’s wineshop is all very well but bucolic leisure has its limits. So when he is asked to investigate the brutal slaying of Vettius Bolanus, one of the two candidates for the forthcoming censor’s elections, he jumps at the chance.

Corvinus feels sure there is a political motive for the murder, and the obvious suspect is Concordius, the rival candidate. But as he pursues his investigations, the obvious solution becomes less and less likely. Can Corvinus find his murderer before the Latin Festival raises the stakes? How do the Latin Nationalists fit into the picture? And what exactly is Meton the chef up to with Dassa the sheep? Marcus Corvinus doesn’t know the answers, either.

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UK & Commonwealth Hodder & Stoughton
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White Murder

When Pegasus, racing mega-star and lead driver of the Whites faction, is found stabbed to death in the alleyway beside Renatius’s wineshop, Marcus Corvinus is already on site. The local District Watch – crooked to a man – claim that the killer’s motive was simple theft, but Corvinus knows it wasn’t.

Tracking the murderer down, with the often-unwilling help of his wife Perilla, takes him deep into the murky world of Roman chariot-racing with all its secrets, skulduggeries and scams; and his task is not made any easier by the fact that in the process he has a lovesick major-domo, an invisible dagger and Mount Etna to contend with.

“ A terrific book to hole up with for the holidays” - Scotland on Sunday

“It is evident that Wishart is a fine scholar and perfectly at home in the period" - The Sunday Times

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UK & Commonwealth Hodder & Stoughton
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Last Rites

It is the morning after the nocturnal rite of the Good Goddess, an all-female ceremony strictly out of bounds to the male of the species, and the body of a young woman has been found, her throat cut. Suicide or murder?

Hoping to avoid scandal, Senator Lucius Arruntius calls in Marcus Corvinus to do some discreet sleuthing. Marcus is helped in his investigations by a feisty flutegirl and by his clever, loyal wife Perilla (even though her attention is somewhat distracted by the acquisition of a revolutionary new clock). But – inevitably – to solve the mystery, Marcus must look beyond the obvious and first untangle a complex web of treachery and deceit.

“With the toga wearing sleuths of Lindsey Davis and Steven Saylor prowling the alleys of Ancient Rome, is there room for Wishart’s Marcus Corvinius? On this evidence, the answer is resoundingly in the affirmative” -Independent on Sunday

“A rich web of treachery and deceit. A cracking good story” - Gwynned Chronicle

“He has a feel for ancient times yet uses modern dialogue. This neat trick manages to combine the atmosphere of the ancient world while moving the story quickly and assuredly on. High recommended” - The Yorkshire Post

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World Darley Anderson Agency
UK & Commonwealth Hodder & Stoughton
Czech Republic Perseus
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Old Bones

Marcus Corvinus doesn't seriously think that his stepfather is a murderer: Priscus wouldn't hurt a fly. But he did discover the corpse, and he was found standing over it with the knife in his hand, so proving the old man's innocence presents quite a challenge.

Corvinus is back in Italy, suckered into a spell of tomb-bashing with his antiquities-mad stepfather. Not at all his idea of a holiday. However, a murder does spice things up, and the victim had enemies enough. Including a cuckolded husband...

"…a hugely entertaining read" - Evening Telegraph

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World Darley Anderson Agency
UK & Commonwealth Hodder & Stoughton
Czech Republic Perseus
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The Horse Coin

he scars of Roman conquest are still livid, the clash of two disparate cultures a source of bitterness and conflict. The Roman ruling class believe it is their duty to civilise the natives; the British tribes chafe under the conquerors' yoke.

Marcus Julius Severinus, a young cavalryman in the Roman army, respects the Britons among whom he has been brought up. Newly promoted to Commander of the 'Foxes', he believes there is more to be gained by co-operation than by brute force.

Governor Paullinus does not agree. When he attempts to cheat Boudicca, queen of the Iceni, of her rightful inheritance, he underestimates the wave of rebellious fury that engulfs Roman and Briton alike. Even though the final battle is won, Marcus and his family have to pay a terrible price.

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UK & Commonwealth Hodder & Stoughton
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The Lydian Baker

What starts out as a simple act of brokering for his stepfather lands Marcus in customary hot water. For the legendary Baker statue, gifted to the Delphic oracle by Croesus of Lydia in the sixth century BC, is a treasure many would kill to possess - and is reputed to bring agonising death to those who touch it...

"Witty, engrossing and ribald ... it misses nothing in its evocation of a bygone time and place." - Independent on Sunday

"A terrific book to hole up with for the holidays." -Scotland on Sunday

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UK & Commonwealth Hodder & Stoughton
Czech Republic Perseus
Slovenia Ikar
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Sejanus

"Well, young man, I'm dead and burned at last, or you wouldn't be reading this. Let me say first that I have no regrets, either about being dead or for having removed so many of my collateral relatives before their proper hours. I acted for the good of Rome.

Which Brings me to the point of this letter. Aelius Sejanus. We talked a little about him the last time we met. Again the fact that you are reading this shows that the time for talk is past. The man is a malignant growth, a danger to Rome, and he must be removed. No; I dislike euphemisms: Sejanus must be killed."

Empress Livia's extraordinary instruction from beyond the grave comes as something of a relief to Marcus Corvinus: life as a voluntary exile is too dull for the amiable Roman, and the chance to engage in more amateur sleuthing is irresistible - despite the obvious dangers.

“Wishart maps political intrigues...in a shrewd engrossing prose. You sense his pleasure in writing and telling, from first page to last, this death-reek tale. In all, it's a pleasure shared." - Scotland on Sunday

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Germanicus

'I swear,' Livia said slowly, 'by all the gods above and below, by my hope of escaping torment in the next world for the murders I have committed in this and by my hope for my own eventual deification, that I was neither directly nor indirectly responsible for the death of my grandson Germanicus Caesar. There. Close your mouth now, please, Corvinus, you look ridiculous.'

My head was spinning. 'You mind explaining why, now?' I said.

Why the oath? Or why I brought you here in the first place?'

'Both, Excellency.'

'Oh, Corvinus! You disappoint me! Of course, now you know that I wasn't responsible for Germanicus's death I want you to find out who was.'

The last thing Corvinus wants is to be involved once more with the diabolical machinations of the Empress Livia: she's as trustworthy as a snake with a migraine.

But Livia has a way of asking favours that is impossible to refuse, and besides, Corvinus has been missing the little tingle at the nape of his neck that accompanies his amateur detective work...

"A Roman thriller...(which) weaves into the plot a painless guide to fun, food and fear in the empire of Tiberius." - New Statesman & Society

"There's lots of action and a nice plot, full of suspense.." Sunday Telegraph

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World Darley Anderson Agency
UK & Commonwealth Hodder & Stoughton
US Felony & Mayhem
Czech Republic Oldag
Germany Luebbe
Serbia Ikar
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Ovid

'So tell me.' I was getting pretty angry myself now. I'd had a long hard day and I wasn't taking this crap from anyone. 'You just tell me, Dad. Tell me why the emperor hates a dead poet so much he won't allow his ashes back to Rome. Tell me why when I ask questions about a scandal so old that you can't even smell it any more everyone keeps his mouth shut closer than a Vestal's kneecaps. Tell me why I nearly end up in the Tiber with my throat cut...'

Such are the frustrated words of Marcus Corvinus, a young man who likes to have a good time and enjoys wine, women and laughter far more than a hard day's work. He also happens to be the grandson of the Roman poet Ovid's former patron.

So when Ovid's stepdaughter, the luscious Rufia Perilla, begs him to recover the poet's ashes and bring them back to Rome, how can Marcus refuse? Not that the task turns out to be easy: official permission is abruptly denied. And as Marcus starts asking questions in the higher echelons of Roman society he finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into a web of secrecy, treachery and deceit.

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World Darley Anderson Agency
UK & Commonwealth Hodder & Stoughton
US Felony & Mayhem
Czech Republic Oldag
Germany Luebbe
Romania Nemira
Serbia Laguna
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Nero

A vivid fictional biography of Emperor Nero

I, Titus Petronius Niger, aesthete, author and erstwhile Adviser on Taste to Nero Claudius Caesar (the gods rot the little bugger) have reached a climacteric in my existence; I might say two climacterics, for although autobiography and suicide aren't normal bedfellows they're both pretty final, and I've no intention of rushing either to oblige anyone; certainly not by poking a sword through my own gut, which may be the traditional recourse of the Roman gentleman but is, in my view, hopelessly crude, not to say extremely messy and hell on the upholstery.

No. I will bleed to death in comfort, like a civilised being. If done in a leisurely fashion by tightening and loosening the wrist-tourniquets (as I will do it), opening one's veins allows one to hang up one's clogs at a decent pace. If I really have to die before my time (and needs must, ho hum, when the emperor drives, even when the emperor is poor loopy Lucius) then I intend to savour every minute of the process. Even if it kills me...

History has not been kind to Emperor Nero: the one fact that everybody knows about him is that he fiddled while Rome burned. Outlawed by the Senate and deserted by most of his friends, he died a suicide, his last words, infamously, being: 'What a loss to art!'

But what elements of nature and nurture combined to make such a notorious character? An entertaining view is presented by Titus Petronius, Nero's pleasure-loving Adviser on Taste, through whose eyes we see the tumultuous, and ultimately tragic, life of the emperor. Nero emerges as a well-intentioned but mentally unstable young man out of sympathy with the society he rules; a sensitive and talented artist who is also capable of sexual perversions, incest, matricide and acts of appalling sadism.

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World Darley Anderson Agency
UK & Commonwealth Hodder & Stoughton
Czech Republic Oldag
Romania Nemira
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I, Virgil

I was born on 15 October in the first consulship of Pompey the Great and Marcus Licinius Crassus in a ditch near Mantua.

'I don't think Mother ever forgave my father that ditch. She certainly would not have forgiven me, if I had not gratified her social ambitions by showing an academic bent.

'Why a ditch at all, you ask? Was Virgil's mother a drab, a no one? Did he even have a father for his mother to forgive?

This was precisely my mother's point. Such stories tend to stick'

'I, Virgil' is the fictional autobiography of the Roman poet, from his boyhood on a farm in Cremona to his death by poison at the hands of the Emperor Augustus. In the course of the book, through Virgil's eyes, we gain an oblique view of the great historical events of the time: the assassination of Caesar, the downfall of Pompey and the tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra.

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World Darley Anderson Agency
UK & Commonwealth Hodder & Stoughton
Czech Republic Oldag

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