Book Review: Dead Men’s Sandals, by David Wishart

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, Corvinus is as easy as 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. Come meet him on the free short stories!

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