Friday, January 20, 2023

Book Review 2022 #3 - Tasha Alexander's Secrets of the Nile

Secrets of the Nile by Tasha Alexander
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: October 4th, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

Lady Emily has long wanted to take a romantic trip down the Nile with her husband Colin. While having her stepdaughter and mother-in-law on the dahabiya might not be the romantic trip Emily had imagined it is because of her mother-in-law that the trip is happening at all and thankfully Emily and Colin's three boys aren't there. Yet. There have been some rather alarming correspondences about train timetables and crocodiles. Hopefully their nanny is up to the job of keeping them in England. As for their trip, Mrs. Ann Hargreaves has been lifelong friends with Lord Bertram Deeley and due to his late wife's health he has wintered every year in Egypt at his magnificent home in Luxor. And each voyage he has peopled his house with friends. He has long hoped the Ann would join him in Egypt. But until now Ann hasn't felt up to visiting. Egypt was were she met her beloved late husband. They met halfway up the Great Pyramid at Giza and were engaged by the time they came down. A story that has always endeared her mother-in-law to Emily through all their strife. Needless to say Emily is not the sort of wife Ann pictured for her son. But that doesn't preclude her from using Emily as a convenient shield against Lord Deeley's plans. Showing Emily, Colin, and Katarina Egypt in her own way meant that instead of being on his boat with the other guests they have taken their voyage at a more sedate pace. Plus they were spared the other guests. Now that they have finally arrived in Luxor and are at the mercy of Lord Deeley's hospitality they are now defenseless against his other guests; Mr. Troubridge, an amusing fellow, or so says Lord Deeley, Mr. Inigo Granard, Lord Deeley's political counterpart, and Inigo's wife Adelaide, Lady Wilona Bestwick, a termagant if ever their was one, and her young companion, Miss Pandora Evans, Dr. Oliver Rockley, a young doctor to assure the safety of the travelers, and finally Mr. McLeod, an archaeologist at a nearby dig who has been invited to fill out the numbers. As they take in the opulence of Lord Deeley's house his hospitality is almost suffocating. He has done everything he can for his guests, including preparing the most sumptuous of feasts. A feast that is to be his last as he dies from arsenic that was added to his special tisane he partakes of at the end of every meal. The police assume it is the work of a disgruntled employee who has since run away, but Emily and Colin aren't so sure. Therefore it is up to them to find out who the real murderer is because they were most likely at that dinner table and one rarely stops at one murder.

If you are a fan of Lady Emily and Tasha Alexander you are perhaps overwhelmed that Emily has finally made it to Egypt. You knew this would one day happen but every time a new volume was introduced Emily was off to Russia or Greece or France or anywhere that wasn't Egypt. And us die hard fans have long known how much Tasha has been wanting to write this volume. She is one of the biggest Elizabeth Peters fans out there and she has peppered references throughout previous volumes. So I can tell you that not only is today the day, but that today is magnificent. This book is everything Lady Emily fans have wanted, this is everything Elizabeth Peters fans have wanted, and it is even everything Agatha Christie fans have wanted, and I'll even say Clue fans will find something to love. I have not enjoyed an Egyptian mystery this much since Elizabeth Peters' The Curse of the Pharaohs, which is hands down my favorite in the Amelia Peabody series. And if anyone is wondering, yes, Amelia was in the Valley of the Kings in 1904 when this book is set but that is all that you will drag out of me on that subject. As for how much I love Egypt, I will talk your ear off! My entire life I have been fascinated with Egypt, perhaps because my parents loved to tell me stories that were equal parts historical and terrifying. I remember crying at the Chicago Field Museum because my Dad told me if I looked on the pharaoh I would be forever cursed. And in an interesting twist of fate a dear friend of my family actually worked on the excavation of Tut's tomb with Howard Carter. I've been to every traveling exhibit of mummies that has come within a day's drive from me for as long as I can remember. And back in 2011 I was overjoyed when I stumbled on the Haskell Oriental Museum at the University of Chicago and was well chuffed it was mentioned within the pages of this book. I mean, I think it's mandatory because Tasha used to live in Chicago, but another author might be remiss. But what gets me every time I read one of Tasha's books is that she connects to the wonders of a place on a different level. There's a depth of feeling and understanding that makes you realize how much she loves Emily's passion and they ignite in the reader a love as well. Not just of Emily, but of the wonders of the world she is seeing. Secrets of the Nile took me back to my Art History classes where my deep admiration of Egypt was assured and Tasha once again had me falling in love with a culture I had previously studied. By now I've convinced you that this book is all about Egypt, but it's not, it's about mystery and romance and, just like Emily's first adventure, And Only to Deceive, the fluidity and mutability of our pasts. How new evidence can change how you look at a previous event forever. If I have one hope for this book it's that you will fall in love with Egypt forever. Sorry, I seem incapable of not bringing it back around to Egypt. It's a mystery!


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