THE LAST CUT by Michael Pearce

Poisoned Pen Press -February 2004
ISBN: 1590580672 - Hardcover

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Harper Collins March 2000
ISBN: 0006510817 Paperback
Buy a UK Copy

Reviewed by Rachel Hyde, MyShelf.Com

Cairo in the early years of the 20th century is under British rule.  Gareth Owen has the unenviable job of being Mamur Zapt or Chief of the Secret Police and in this twelfth novel in the series he is as usual juggling the different factions and trying to stay on top of it all.  This time he has to preside over the last ever dam cutting ceremony but as if it wasn't unpopular enough that this historic rite is coming to an end a dead body has to be found.  Years ago a maiden used to be sacrificed when the cut was made and it looks as though somebody is intent on reviving an old custom.  Who is the Lizard Man and what is his connection with it all - is it him who has a grudge against the irrigation system or is there more to it than that?  Owen has to sort it all out and keep his irascible girlfriend Zeinab happy which is probably more difficult than solving murders.

As usual Pearce delivers a highly amusing and entertaining tale.  The bureaucracy and faction-juggling is guaranteed to strike a chord with anybody dealing with office politics (or any politics) so this is a historical novel with a definite modern appeal.  What is more Pearce doesn't waste a page but gallops along like a swift arab racehorse.  I can't wait for the next book in this delightful series but if you have never read one before go back and read the first entitled The Mamur Zapt and the Return of the Carpet.  You have a treat in store!

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