Edited by Mike Ashley
Constable (Constable & Robinson) - September 2002
ISBN 1841195057 PB
Historical Crime
Circa 2650 BC to early 20th century

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde,
Buy a US || UK Copy

There is something irresistible about Egypt as a setting for any story; the immensity of time during which it was a major world power, the exotic culture and the fact that we know a comparatively large amount about people who lived so long ago; all contribute to this fascination. Many fine writers of historical fiction have chosen it as a setting and quite a few of these have set mystery stories among the "sands of crime". Here is one of the delightful series of Mammoth books full of short stories, a great "taster" volume for anybody who hasn't yet made a foray into this sub-genre and a treasure trove of new tales by old favorites (and others) for fans.

Elizabeth Peters, Lauren Haney, Paul Doherty, Lynda S Robinson, Mary Reed and Eric Mayer and Michael Pearce all contribute to this volume and write about their established characters or break away from their usual style. There is murder as long ago as 2650 BC as old Imhotep the pyramid builder remembers an incident from his childhood, Cleopatra and Herodotus both turn sleuth, a new twist is added to the fate and identity of a mysterious mummy and archaeologists unearth secrets as the past mixes with the present. There are tales from the reigns of Hatshepsut, Tutankhamen, Cleopatra, Ramses II (none from Akhenaten's reign oddly) and from the reigns of lesser pharaohs such as Piankhy, Chephren, Meryakare and Amenemhat IV and a handy map of Old Egypt at the front. I thought that they were all good stories with none particularly standing out as superb or unreadable, as is the tradition of Mike Ashley's books along with handy briefs about the various pharaohs and authors. This is the sort of book that makes a great gift - one to dip into again and again for some good entertainment. Recommended.

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