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Day of the False King
Semerket #2

by Brad Geagley

      Fans of writers like Christian Jacq and Paul Doherty were no doubt devouring Brad Geagley's first novel Year of the Hyaenas when it came out last year, and now here is book two. Fresh - if such a word can be said to apply to somebody like Semerket - from his exertions to unmask the conspiracy to murder Rameses III, Semerket is off to Babylon. Egypt's Clerk of Investigations and Secrets (a Paul Doherty title if ever there was one) has to bring back the statue of the god Bel-Marduk to cure the consumptive new pharaoh Rameses IV, and find his ex-wife Naia. He is sure that she is alive, and even has a scrap of writing from reluctant conspirator Rami to prove it. But once he is in this strange land, nothing is what it seems and Semerket ends up having to solve a mystery set by King Kutir to find his missing sister.

Novels set in ancient Babylon are not exactly numerous, so it is a treat to read this one and discover something about this mysterious land. The parallels to today are many, with warfare a constant and everything in turmoil. Mr Geagley brings the place to vibrant life and there is even space for some humor, with a brief Casablanca spoof slotted in, and the Indiana Jones perils of the dreaded Insect Room, which is obviously going to feature at least once. There is a long-lost prince (shades of King Solomon's Mines) and the obligatory local investigator who seems stumped until Semerket steps in and points out some obvious things. The first book featured rather a lot of supernatural happenings, but here virtually everything is explained as technically possible. My main criticism of book one is that the author hadn't brought enough of his own to the book, but here his style reveals itself a little more. Semerket himself is surely the archetypal self-destructive Sam Spade gumshoe, and therefore the setting with its flashes of inspiration culled from classic films seems fitting.

The Book

Simon & Schuster (US)
January 2006
Historical Crime [1150BC, Egypt]
More at
NOTE: Some violence

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2006
© 2006