Another Review at MyShelf.Com

The Book of the Dead

by Nick Drake

Rahotep is a young Chief Detective of the Medjay in Thebes, a family man with a wife and children he adores, and a somewhat introspective nature. Pharaoh Akhenaten wants Rahotep to investigate something very secret and important, so he is summoned to attend the pharoah in his brand-new desert city of Akhetaten. His wife is missing. The beautiful Nefertiti has vanished without trace, and she must be found in time for the festival to declare the new city open. Rahotep has just ten days to do this, and if he fails, his family will die, and he will be killed in some gory manner.

Told in Rahotep’s own words, this novel paints a vivid and uncompromising picture of life in Egypt under the “heretic pharaoh.” If you are used to the squeaky-clean perfection of Christian Jacq’s Egypt, then this might be a surprise, as it give a warts-and-all look at this enlightened society. Torture, the whims of an all-powerful ruler, poverty, casual violence, and the vicissitudes of daily life are all shown here. The final picture is of an ancient people who are not wantonly cruel but are a world away from what we consider Utopia. This is speculative history as much as a whodunit, as we don’t know what happened to cause Nefertiti’s real disappearance, but here is one possible explanation.

My main criticism is that for a seasoned detective, Rahotep favors the “wandering around aimlessly” approach to crime solving that many more amateur sleuths in novels tend to favor. This seems strange considering how he has risen to be a chief at his young age. Akhenaten is not pleased with Rahotep’s lack of progress, and no wonder! Also, after so much careful plotting and depiction of the various characters, some aspects of the finale are rather disappointing to me, but might have other readers’ heads nodding. Ultimately the book impresses as being a revealing window on the past where we see the minutiae of daily life unfolding before us through Rahotep’s eyes. This is its real strength. A standalone I imagine, but hopefully not all this author will write about Egypt.



The Book
UK: Bantam Press (Transworld) US: HarperCollins
UK: January 2007 / US: 4/3/2007
UK ISBN: 10: 0593054016 / 13: 9780593054017
US ISBN: 9780060765897 / 0060765895

Historical Crime - 1340BC, Egypt
More at Amazon UK || US

NOTE: US edition is different

Some violence

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2007
© 2007