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Monday, November 1, 2010

The Anubis Slayings. Paul Doherty. Headline Book Publishing (2000)


This is an excellent crime story with a vividly realised setting and a superbly crafted plot. In Egypt the female Pharaoh, Hatusu, had defeated King Tushratta of Mitanni and was organising a peace treaty to seal her victory. In the temple of Anubis, the jackal headed god,murder and the theft of a very valuable and sacred jewel place the negotiations under strain. Hatsu calls on the judge Amerotke to solve the crimes. The story unfolds with great pace and, the threads of the plot are very cleverly woven together, the reveals are brilliantly staged and the final unravelling is a sharp pleasure.
Ancient Egypt is brought to credible life with deceptive ease and telling detail.There is no slabs of information that interrupt the flow of the story, the context is revealed in a natural and light handed way. The emphasis is on the cast and the way that they interact with each other. The leading players are developed very strongly, Hatusu emerges as a powerful and supremely confident leader. Her will to achieve and retain power does not define her, she is a complex and engaging woman. Amerotke is thoughtful and very capable, nicely he is not an Egyptian Sherlock Holmes, he is astute and observant. The rest of the cast are all given room to breathe and the story gains strongly from the layers that each cast member brings with them.
Underneath the wonderful clothing of Ancient Egypt a cunningly constructed plot drives the action. It is credibly tied to the cast and the context, the plot mechanics are lightly laid down and the cast drive the action themselves. The shifting reveals give the cast new chances to reveal themselves and they do so. Utterly engaging, smart and very satisfying, a pleasure.

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