An ancient Egyptian serial killer threatens the nascent reign of the nation’s young Pharaoh.
Rahotep, the Chief Detective of Medjay, the Thebes police force, is summoned late one night to examine a singular corpse. Clearly a murder victim, the body of the young man has been ceremoniously arranged, the eyes removed and covered with gold leaves, with a third eye painted above. The first-person narration of methodical Rahotep, whose home life is as tumultuous (four children and a faithful pet baboon named Thoth) as his investigations are orderly, is characteristically crisp. But scarcely has he begun to formulate a theory of the crime than he’s swept up in the excitement surrounding the imminent first public appearance of young Tutankhamun as Pharaoh. Though the streets are flooded with celebrants, Rahotep finds the atmosphere eerie, a feeling validated when Nefertiti’s daughter Queen Ankhesenamun buttonholes him for a secret meeting and shares her fears for her husband’s safety. Among the many plots within plots, the chief danger may come from inside the royal court. As Rahotep and his handsome young sidekick Khety begin their probe, additional ritualized victims begin to appear, along with a series of ominous gifts—like a small black figurine with the ruling family’s name inscribed—arriving at the palace. Nevertheless, the boy King seizes the reins of power, appearing fearlessly in public, as Rahotep races against the clock.
Poet Drake’s measured style and surfeit of historical detail—including maps, bibliography and family tree—add both verisimilitude and suspense to his second Rahotep mystery (Nefertiti, 2007). Fascinating.