The Poisoner of Ptah

The Poisoner of Ptah by P.C. Doherty. There is no better way to return to the world of HM than with the master author P.C. Doherty. In the fifth Ancient Egyptian mystery featuring Chief Judge Amerotke, we find all the classic elements: a falsely accused murderer, devious enemies trying to overthrow the rule of the Pharaoh Hatusu, political intrigue and treachery among the priests, brutal crime lords with their own agendas, and several seemingly inexplicable deaths. Amerotke, along with his assistant Shufoy the dwarf and Nadif, an officer in the Theban police, must investigate how three scribes from the Temple of Ptah were poisoned in front of hundreds of witnesses, including the Pharaoh herself, at the signing of a peace treaty with the Libyans. On the same day, a rich merchant, and supporter of the temple, is found drowned along with his wife in his spectacular garden pool despite being surrounded by guards and a high fence. The deaths are credited to the mysterious Rekhet, a poisoner who terrorized the capital years ago and has now escaped his prison in the desert, but the judge suspects others may be involved as well.

Doherty is one of the best, an author of several series under his own name and frequent pseudonyms. Although the characters of this series come primarily from the upper crust of Egyptian society, Doherty manages to capture both the extreme grandeur and brilliance of the temples and palaces as well as the extreme grit and squalor of the markets and back alleys of the city. The plots are complex, yet rarely does the judge have to rely on luck or connivance in order to bring the criminals to justice in the Hall of Two Truths.

 

Doherty has completed a second HM series set in ancient Egypt.  This one is a trilogy featuring Mahu, former Chief of Police and Keeper of the Secrets of the Heart set during the reign of Akenhaten in 14th century BC.  Unfortunately, I have not read any of these yet.

 

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