Ra is Pharaoh’s Cat, exalted, proud, pampered, and very lazy.
He lives for naps and snacks and views physical activity with horror. His friend Khepri, a scarab beetle, tries to get him moving, but to no avail. When Miu, a lowly kitchen cat, begs him to use his knowledge of the palace’s secrets to help Tedimut, a young human girl falsely accused of stealing an amulet, he declines, appalled at the possibility of missing his next snack. Shamed into helping, he leads the way through the intricacies of the palace. They find Tedimut’s hiding place, and after hearing her story, Ra decides to be the lead detective, with Khepri as his sidekick, to find the real thief. They track clues throughout the palace and get help from Aat, the Great Wife’s leopard; Bebi, the pet baboon of Pharaoh’s mother; and others. Overheard conversations, palace intrigue, chases, and loads of red herrings come into play before they find the surprise culprit and solve the mystery. Greenfield’s tone is generally lighthearted, but there is an undertone concerning the nature of power. The exciting ancient setting, as well as the characters’ idiosyncratic personalities and their delightful repartee, will appeal to young readers. Horne’s pen-and-ink portraits, elongated and exaggerated, perfectly complement the seriocomic tone of the novel.
Fast-paced adventure with a lot of charm. (glossary of names, author’s note, source note, acknowledgements) (Historical fantasy/mystery. 8-11)