In his second adventure, Egyptian cop Semerket makes a move on a Babylonian god.
Bel-Marduk is a famously curative deity sorely needed by a seriously ill Pharaoh. Ramses IV has given up on the local gods who, despite being worshipped with bountiful gifts and unstinting sacrifices, seem unable or unwilling to help. “Death,” Ramses tells Semerket, “gnaws at my vitals.” Why tap his Clerk of Investigations and Secrets for so critical a mission? Because Semerket is hot, having recently cracked the murder case (Year of the Hyena, 2005) that broke up a conspiracy and saved Ramses his throne and possibly his neck. The detective signs on, promising to return in good time, god in tow. Semerket, however, has his own agenda. His beloved wife Naia has disappeared in Babylon after being exiled for insufficient cause by the previous Pharaoh. True, rumors of her murder are persistent, but her yearning husband has never believed them. So off he goes, charged by Ramses as well as his own powerful longing to murky, quirky Babylon, a place where danger is ubiquitous and betrayal a constant threat. But brave, clever Semerket, a man who can get his black eyes to glitter on demand, is made for trouble and for multi-tasking.
Babylon comes to life; the characters mostly don’t.