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The Egyptian Coffin
Lord Ambrose Malfine, No. 2

by Jane Jakeman

      I had difficulty getting into this book at the beginning, and I think it was because the author does credit to the chosen style. I can liken the beginning of the book to walking in on a conversation between two people who are talking about a place I have never been and people I don't know, and it took a few minutes for me to decide that I really was interested in the subject matter.

The story is a finely balanced memoir. It would have been easy for the text to become overly tedious in its descriptions of the historical aspects of a foreign land. It would have also been easy for the story line to become melodramatic in the face of an intricate plot across two continents; however, the letter-writing format allows for deeper characterizations. I was convinced that I was reading a correspondence or journal between two, well-educated, nineteenth century Englishmen, although I did feel that the use of scattered words in multiple languages was usually superfluous.

I love flawed heroes, and Ambrose is perfect in that regard. Titled, wealthy, socially unacceptable due to his parentage, a rapscallion by any measure; he sets out to guard Lilian, the daughter of his best friend from childhood. At 17 she is an orphan under the guidance of an unloving uncle, Overbury, and his scarred man-of-affairs, Casterman. Ambrose is unnerved when Lilian is sent with her nurse and Casterman to Cairo for her health and so begins his break-neck quest to rescue Lilian and pay back a debt of which she is unaware.

I don't think that you need to read the first in the series, Let There Be Blood, to appreciate this one; I did not. But I dare you to read the Egyptian Coffin and not search for Fools Gold in February 2006.

Come on. I dare you.

The Book

Berkley Trade
September 6, 2005
Historical Mystery
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The Reviewer

Beth E. McKenzie
Reviewed 2006
© 2006