Title: Tutankhamun: The Book Of Shadows
Author: Nick Drake
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
The Gist: Egypt’s next Pharaoh, the young Tutankhamun, is ready to claim his birthright–a vast, powerful, and sophisticated empire. It should be at the height of its glory, but it is troubled by long-lasting foreign wars, public dissent, and internal struggles. With his new wife, Ankhesenamun, the daughter of Nefertiti, Tutankhamun undertakes an audacious plan to consolidate his power and return tolerance and enlightenment to his land. But not everyone wants the ambitious new Pharaoh to succeed and soon sinister “gifts” begin appearing in the royal palace–evil objects designed to terrify the nineteen-year-old King.
Rahotep, the stalwart chief detective of the Thebes division, is summoned to the palace to investigate.
The Review: Nick Drake’s Tutankhamun: The Book Of Shadows is the second book in the Rahotep trilogy. And like the first one, Nefertiti: The Book Of The Dead, I had a great time reading this book. I love to read historical fiction and mysteries and when an author combines these two genres in the same book, I’m in heaven. I also love history and I love history about ancient Egypt, so Tutankhamun is an all-around winner for me.
Drake creates multi-dimensional characters no matter how minor and major a particular character is to the story, and Drake also pays attention to details so that Thebes and other cities of ancient Egypt come to life. He creates a likeable and thoughtful character in chief detective Rahotep. Like everyone in real life no matter the historical period, Rahotep worries about his family, his career path, and the state of the world around him. Rahotep sees the ever-widening discrepancies between the poor and the wealthy which sandwiches on either side a slim, practically non-existent middle class. Rahotep appreciates art, poetry, and philosophy, and when he’s on a case, Rahotep looks for patterns and clues in a crime scene that often run counter to “normal” detective thinking patterns. In short, Rahotep thinks outside the box, and he thinks outside the box on a myriad of issues which often set him at odds with his colleagues. However, while Rahotep’s creative thinking separates him from his co-workers and advancement up the career ladder, it’s his creative thinking that gets the attention of the king and queen when trouble begins brewing in the palace.
I also consider the environment of ancient Egypt a character itself in this book. Drake not only mentions the heat and the sun of ancient Egypt, but also the way light plays off of buildings and cliffs. Darkness and shadows have an equal role to play when Drake creates the atmosphere in this story and darkness and light often overlap. The Red Lands and The Black Lands become living entities themselves as they bring to life in the mind of the characters (whether they believe or not) the myths of the gods and the magic associated with them.
Finally, Drake (himself a poet) uses metaphors and similes that fit with ancient Egypt so that as I read Tutankhamun I felt that I belonged in ancient Egypt seeing the world and thinking about the world in the ways an ancient Egyptian most likely would. You won’t find references to telephones or texting. Everything fits and flows smoothly.
If you want a really good mystery combined with history and historical fiction then Nick Drake’s Tutankhamun: The Book Of Shadows is an excellent choice.