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Tutankhamun: The Book of Shadows    by Nick Drake order for
by Nick Drake
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Nick Drake, author of Nefertiti: The Book of the Dead, brings back his ancient Egyptian detective, Rahotep, 'Seeker of Mysteries', in Tutankhamun: The Book of Shadows. Though Rahotep is the Chief Detective in the Thebes Medjay (police force), he does not have the support of his oily superior Nebamun. However he has a strong subordinate, Khety, and a good friend in the noble, wealthy and erudite Nakht. He also has a loving family - his wife Tanefert, three treasured daughters and a delightful baby son - and a protective baboon, Thoth.

Two strong threads of mystery run through Tutankhamun and demand Rahotep's attention. First is a string of serial killings of young people, all drugged and then cruelly mutilated in different yet horrific ways. Second are threats against the young royals themselves, Tutankhamun and his sister-wife Ankhesenamun, daughter of Nefertiti. Ankhesenamun defies Regent Ay to bring Rahotep in to investigate. He soon sees 'the serpent of chaos and destruction, that lies coiled in secret beneath our feet, open its golden eyes.'

Rahotep determines that someone within the Palace is conspiring against the young King and Queen, but cannot identify who it is and why. At the same time, the young royals reveal to him their plan to wrest control from Ay (who has held on to the regency longer than he should) and to keep power out of the hands of General Horemheb, who has the army at his command. As Rahotep digs deeper, he comes into conflict with his old friend Nakht over secret knowledge the latter possesses and will not share.

After Tutankhamun declares himself 'King in name and deed', he decides to prove himself by a lion hunt in the desert, with tragic consequences. Though Rahotep navigates a 'pool of crocodiles' to solve the mystery of who threatened the young rulers, it is almost too late to save Ankhesenamun - and his own family - from Ay and Horemheb, and from an evil figure who believes that 'Fear is the greatest power.'

If you haven't found this mystery series set in ancient Egypt yet, you don't know what a treat you're missing. Nick Drake makes the daily life of the time - from hovels to palaces - feel close and real. His lead, Rahotep, is a good man (and a talented investigator) trying to balance his duty, and passion for his job, with the needs of his beloved family. Tess Gerritsen is dead on in calling Tutankhamun 'a glorious, riveting historical thriller.'

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