Four Ways to Pharaoh Khufu by Alexander Marmer

Four Ways to Pharaoh Khufu

Email this review


Marmer’s debut novel explores the many secrets of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

American software engineer Michael Doyle, a fan of the pyramids since his youth, takes his dream vacation to Egypt. The trip gets temporarily derailed when Michael finds himself trying to save a German engineer, Gunther Schulze, who claims he was poisoned. Instead of sightseeing, the former soldier gets sucked into international intrigue when Schulze is accused of stealing a priceless artifact. Keeping a promise he made to the dying man, Michael visits Schulze’s beautiful daughter, Anna. Their mission to clear her father’s name takes them from Germany to Russia and back to Egypt as they dodge assassins sent to capture them from an Egyptian tribal leader. Along the way, they meet an old Russian man whose ideas about the final resting place of Pharaoh Khufu—the fourth dynasty Egyptian ruler, also known as Cheops—seem less preposterous than the dubious duo originally thought as they learn more about the pyramids. Marmer adds authenticity to his novel by mining his computer science background and his military and police experience; e.g., Michael smuggles a combat knife through airport security. The author builds on a solid plotline by considering existing theories about the pyramids. He adds his own twists, postulating that Khufu and his riches are buried in a secret chamber still to be discovered. Michael and Anna employ their wits to survive; she uses her acting and makeup skills to avoid detection, and Michael relies on his knowledge of German to eavesdrop on others. Secondary characters sometimes slip too readily into clichés, such as the strident assassin Asim and the imperious Medjay chieftain Jibade. Another drawback is that, despite liberal use of illustrations, it’s difficult to follow the novel’s theories about how exactly the pyramids were constructed, and the story drags at times as a result. But overall, Marmer has produced a crackling read, full of exotic settings and intriguing ideas.

A well-researched take on the pyramids’ creation successfully disguised as a smart thriller.

Pub Date: Dec. 10th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-4828-5498-5
Page count: 382pp
Publisher: PartridgeSingapore
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:


ChildrenPYRAMID by David Macaulay
by David Macaulay
NonfictionPYRAMID QUEST by Robert M. Schoch
by Robert M. Schoch
FictionTHE PYRAMID by Henning Mankell
by Henning Mankell