New Author August is over, so, as you might expect, it’s time for the return of my seemingly incessant reviews of the work of Paul Doherty, this time heading back to ancient Egypt for the third in the series featuring the judge Amerotke, sorting out all sorts of shenanigans as Hatusu tries to cement her position as Pharaoh. A return to this series – last visited in The Horus Killings – has been long overdue, if only because TomCat has been nagging me on and off to read this one.
At the temple of Anubis, perparations are being made for a peace conference with the Mitanni, a tribe that Hatusu roundly defeated in The Mask of Ra (not a spoiler!). But a mysterious jackal-masked man has been spotted prowling the temple and people have been mysteriously dropping dead. Most disconcertingly, a jewel sacred to Anubis has been stolen from the temple – and, you’ve guessed it, stolen from a room locked from the inside. And, for good measure, the priest guarding it has been murdered too… As tempers start to flare and relations break down, Amerotke is charged with sorting everything out and preventing another war. All in a day’s work…
TomCat loves this book – it’s his favourite of the series, and I can see why. As ever, Doherty brings a long-dead world to stunning life – some of the day-to-day goings on almost seem alien and yet do not jar or seem out of place. This is a complete world presented on the page that the reader is drawn into completely.
The mysteries are clever as well – putting the whole plot together would take a better man than I – one revelation in particular is very well done and surprising. As is the case with all of Doherty’s better books, the plots dovetail together well, with everything linked in some way to the central plot.
The locked room stands out as being very clever and simple. I think the best locked room puzzles are those that if you look at them the right way, it becomes blindingly obvious, but, for whatever reason, you don’t look that way until the detective points in the right direction. Certainly this was the case here for me.
Any reservations? Maybe there’s a bit of a lack of suspects, but the identity of the person in the jackal mask was a bit obvious to me, but there’s still a lot more to work out on top of that.
As ever, recommended. An improvement over The Horus Killings, as the threads weave together better here, and I’m looking forward to my next Doherty already.