||Egypt has fallen on dark, frightening times. The pharaoh Ay is near death and Ankhsenamun, daughter of Nefertiti, has not provided him with an heir. Rottenness at all governmental levels, coupled with the threat of the ruthless and ambitious General Horemheb, and the growing turbulence among kingdoms to the East has prompted one poet to write, “Violence walks the ways,/ Evil runs rampant.”
Egypt: The Book of Chaos is the concluding novel of Nick Drake’s ancient Egyptian trilogy, after Nefertiti (shortlisted for the Ellis Peters Historical Crime award) and Tutankhamun. Rahotep, Seeker of Mysteries, has fallen from his position of power in the Thebes Medjay (police), consigned by his viciously petty boss to only the most superficial aspects of investigations–including the appallingly cruel murder of five young low-level opium runners. Finding a papyrus scrap inscribed with a strange symbol in one victim’s mouth, Rahotep pockets this, sharing it only with his partner, Khety; Khety’s sadistic murder, some days later, propels Rahotep into a personal investigation of the crime.
Rahotep’s search for answers dives deep into the dark, gritty heart of a corrupt and dangerous society, as he accompanies his oldest friend Nakht, of the inner circle of royal advisers, on a political mission whose urgency is matched only by its secrecy. Ignoring repeated warnings to leave the murders alone, Rahotep continues his investigation as he journeys north along the opium supply route (which still exists today). Along the way, he faces kidnapping, torture, addiction and death–either from the sinister Obsidian, head of the new opium trade, from Egypt’s Hittite enemies, or from the hands of Horemheb himself. This tightly crafted, brooding plunge into the frightening fin de siècle of the XVIII dynasty will leave readers satisfied as well as regretful that The Book of Chaos is the last in Drake’s series. —Judith Hawkins-Tillirson, proprietress, Wyrdhoard Books, and blogger at Still Working for Books
Discover: Rahotep, Seeker of Mysteries, guides us through the treacherous end days of Egypt’s XVIII dynasty.
|Harper, $25.99 hardcover, 9780060765941|