Ancient Egypt's chief detective undertakes a secret mission away from home just as the government at Thebes is inconveniently in turmoil.
A disturbing tide of violence in Thebes leaves chief detective Rahotep, who narrates in crisp first person, a bit disillusioned. The murder and decapitation of several Nubian boys have given him a severe case of insomnia. Rahotep also works occasionally as a bodyguard for his wealthy friend Nakht, who fails to lift him from his dark mood. Things go from bad to worse with the abrupt death of the young Pharaoh, King Tutankhamun. In her struggle to hold her newfound power, his widow, Queen Ankhesenamun, reminds Rahotep of his close bond with her mother and his promise of protection. She sends him on a secret mission north with Nakht to persuade Suppiluliuma, the King of the Hitties, to sanction the marriage of one of his sons to the Egyptian Queen. Rahotep's daughters entreat him not to go, and with reason. The arduous trip involves nearly two weeks of daily northward travel. His adventure leads to the murder of one of his friends, who is a member of his caravan and, as the result of a papyrus left in the victim's mouth, the discovery of a dangerous opium ring.
Maps, a cast list and quotations from The Book of the Dead are welcome accouterments to Drake's third Rahotep mystery (Tutankhamun: The Book of Shadows, 2010, etc.). It moves a bit slowly into the realm of mystery but offers a consistently fascinating and believable portrait of ancient Egypt.