Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Poisoner of Ptah-P.C. Doherty

The Poisoner of Ptah
P.C. Doherty
St. Martin’s, Feb 2008, $24.95
ISBN 9780312359621

In 1478 B.C. Pharaoh Hatusu rules Egypt with a firm but gentle hand. She feels no major internal threats to her keeping the throne in spite of her gender. Her biggest concerns come from outside her kingdom as foreign rulers assume she is weak because she is female. Still, she negotiates peace treaties with her royal peers for the betterment of her nation.

While working on a treaty with Libya, three Egyptian scribes die apparently by poison. Hatusu directs her Chief Judge in the Hall of Two Truths Lord Amerotke to uncover the identity of the killer. The prime suspect is Rekhet, who just escaped from incarceration having been sent to prison for life for royal poisonings. Amerotke finds a link between Rekhet and the Libyans that makes him wonder if the foreigners are negotiating in bad faith.

The Lord Amerotke Ancient Egypt investigations continue to be some of the best whodunits on the market. The latest tale THE POISONER OF PTAH is an excellent entry both as a mystery and as a historical thriller. Amerotke is terrific as he holds the story line together with his investigation while the support cast helps bring to life Ancient Egypt and to a degree Libya through its delegation. This series (see THE ASSASSINS OF ISIS, THE MASK OF RA, HORUS KILLING and THE SLAYERS OF SETH) remains top of the line.

Harriet Klausner