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Books 54-55: Nefertiti and Keeping the Dead.

Book 54: Nefertiti: the Book of the Dead.
Author: Nick Drake, 2006.
Genre: Historical Fiction. Crime. Ancient Egypt.
Other Details: Hardback, 349 pages

Set in Year 12 of Akhenaten's reign, this is the first in a series of historical mysteries featuring Rai Rahotep, the youngest chief detective in the Thebes Medjay division. At the opening Rahotep is summoned to the magnificent new capital of Akhetan where he finds that he has been chosen to conduct a very delicate investigation. With only a short time remaining before a major festival to celebrate the new city, Queen Nefertiti has disappeared. The Pharaoh himself charges Rahotep with discovering the whereabouts of his queen, whether alive or dead, and threatens both him and his family with death if he fails.

Rahotep finds himself plunged into a labyrinth of secrets, intrigues and caught up in the power struggles between the royal family and the powerful priesthood, who had been deprived of their power and wealth by Akhenaten's new religion. Naturally bodies pile up and Rahotep finds himself a target for those who don't wish him to succeed.

The disappearance of Queen Nefertiti twelve years into her husband's reign is one of histories great mysteries and so makes a great premise for a historical crime novel. The book was entertaining and very much a page-turner. While Drake might be criticised for having his characters express modern sensibilities, writers do have to form a bridge for their readers and the culture of the distant past. I felt that overall Drake succeeded in creating a sympathetic main character and captured the ambiance of the period in considerable detail. It could have been stronger in terms of giving more details of the complex politics of the time but given that the novel was written in the first person from the viewpoint of Rahotep it made sense to keep things fairly simple.

Book 55: Keeping the Dead/The Keepsake (Rizzoli and Isles Book 07).
Author: Tess Gerritsen, 2009.
Genre: Crime Thriller. Police Procedural.
Other Details Paperback, 446 pages.

Gerritsen's latest in this series of fast-paced forensic thrillers also has an Egyptian theme. It opens with forensic pathologist Dr. Maura Isles in attendance at a hospital where, amidst a media circus, an unusual patient is having a CT scan. The patient involved is a two thousand year old mummy recently discovered in the basement storage area of a local museum. They hope to determine her age, health and method of preservation and the enthusiastic museum curator even hopes they might be able to determine the cause of death.

As the scan proceeds everyone present gasps in horror as the image of a bullet is revealed. Isles declares it a possible homicide and Detective Jane Rizzoli is called in to investigate. When the preserved body of a second victim is found - and then a third, it becomes clear that they are dealing with a serial killer. Maura and Jane have to find and stop him before he adds another chilling piece to his macabre collection.

Once I started to read this, it was pretty much impossible to put down and once again Gerritsen excelled herself with an innovative story line. The case at hand is very much at the forefront of the story with her main characters' personal circumstances and issues taking a back seat. I actually prefer this way of writing rather than major dramas in their lives in every book. I enjoyed the cameo from Anthony Sansone of the Mephisto Society. I continue to have hopes for his future involvement in the series.
Tags: crime fiction, historical fiction, police drama, thriller
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