Monday, January 25, 2010

The King Is Dead

The Murder of King Tut by James Patterson (932.014 PAT Main & Avoca; CD 932.014 PAT Avoca)

Reviewed by Susan

This book is the best of all worlds: mystery, history, and James Patterson. Wow! Three of my favorite things!!

Also, this is like three books rolled into one. It’s the story of King Tut as well as the story of Howard Carter and his struggle to find a royal tomb. Last but not least, it is the story of James Patterson, his curiosity and reasoning to find the killer.

And yes, there was a killer. Some Egyptologists claim that Tut died of an infection from a broken leg. Patterson pretty much proves that story doesn’t work because Tut was recovering. The throne was the prize. King Tut was only 18 years old with a young and beautiful queen who was Queen Nefertiti’s daughter. Someone only needed to kill a bed-fast king, and it was winner take all.

First Patterson takes us to ancient Egypt around 1490 BC, when King Tut's grandfather ruled Egypt. He shows us the decadence and style of governance under Pharoah Amenhotep IV and Queen Nefertiti, and gives us a glimpse of King Tut’s fear and uncertainty as he takes the throne. Patterson writes like he is just behind the curtain, making you really feel like you are there.

Interwoven in the young pharoah’s story is that of Howard Carter. While a young artist in England, he is introduced to archeology. Poor and unable to find a sponsor, he goes to Egypt as an artist to record the findings by other archeologists. His career has its ups and downs. Finally, he locates a sponsor, and discovers the young pharoah’s tomb at the 11th hour, just before Lord Carnarvon was to pull the plug on the funding. Interestingly enough, the love of his life was Lord Carnarvon’s daughter, Evelyn, who was at his side as history was made when he first looked into Tutankhamen’s tomb and said, “I see wonderful things.” Lord Carnarvon was furious about their clandestine romance. Just months after the discovery, Evelyn--now Lady Carnarvon-- “did the right thing,” turned her back on Carter and found a more socially and financially appropriate husband. Carter died alone. She attended the service. It was a bittersweet story.

Patterson also focuses on the present and tells how this book came about. He shares what he went through as he searched for the truth behind Tutankhamen's death. Is he right? Maybe. There are clues enough to make this into a whodunit thriller.

If you enjoy digging into Egyptian tombs and pyramids--

If you enjoy “Tales of the Mummy” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” stories—

If you like real life stories—

Then you will enjoy this book.

It is after all, one of history’s oldest murder mysteries.

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