David Wishart

David Wishart is an author best known for his fiction series of historical mysteries. Wishart studied Greek and Latin classics at Edinburgh University where he got his degree. After four years of teaching both Greek and Latin, Wishart lived abroad, teaching English in many different locations including Kuwait, Greece, and Saudi Arabia. Currently, Wishart lives with his family in Scotland.

Wishart published his first novel, I, Virgil, in 1995 and has since released Germanicus, Sejanus, The Lydian Baker, Old Bones, Last Rites, White Murder, A Vote for Murder, Parthian Shot, Food for the Fishes, In at the Death, Illegally Dead, Bodies Politic, No Cause for Concern, Solid Citizens, Finished Business, Trade Secrets, Foreign Bodies, Family Commitments, and Going Back.

Below are the books Wishart recommended to us, we hope you enjoy!

(I’ve confined myself here to books – or rather, where 4 of the 5 are concerned, to authors’ series – which I come back to again and again.)

1) The Flashman books by George Macdonald Fraser

Absolutely brilliant writing, and for me the perfect blend of fiction and historical fact, with a first-person-narrator anti-hero thrown in. His two McAuslan collections (short stories set against the background of a Scottish Highland regiment stationed overseas in the 1950s) are excellent, too, particularly if you happen to be a Scot yourself and can appreciate the humor (plus understand some of the vocabulary!). 

2) Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Marvellous, every single book of it: comic writing and a feel for language well into the Wodehouse class, combined with real intelligence and sharp observation: I can’t count the times that there’s been something on the news or wherever, and either I or my wife (also a fan) has said ‘Very Terry Pratchett!’ His contraction of Alzheimer’s – with the resulting loss of goodness knows how many more books – was a tragedy. 

3) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. A cult book in its day, and unlike most cult books a joy to read both then and now: a marvelous, anarchic roller-coaster ride with a black streak down its middle, superbly written and (despite the surface anarchy) beautifully organised and crafted. If the first two sentences (‘It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him’) don’t have you hooked and grinning then nothing will. 

4) John le Carré’s Karla series. I’d bracket this with the works of Graham Greene, which also (for me, anyway) perfectly encapsulate the grey, slightly seedy, morally ambiguous no-man’s-land of Cold War espionage: unlike Fleming’s Bond books, totally convincing. It’s a mark of how good the writing is that they easily hold their own when set beside their excellent TV adaptations. 

5) Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy. A very subjective choice, I know, and certainly not one to everyone’s taste (has anyone even heard of it now?) but no apologies. I’ve always been interested in Celtic mythology and folklore, and in connection with these what’s known as the ‘Matter of Britain’ (King Arthur and company) before the French romantics got their hands on it and made it all pretty-pretty. I first read the Merlin trilogy when I was at school in the 1960s; I was hooked then, because it chimed exactly with that interest, and I’ve remained so ever since. 

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