P. C. DOHERTY – The Assassins of Isis. St. Martin’s, hardcover, November 2006. Originally published in the UK by Headline: hardcover, August 2004; trade paperback, August 2005.

   In this fifth novel in the Egyptian series featuring Lord Amerotke, Chief Judge of Pharaoh Queen Hatusu, tombs of the Pharaohs are being looted in the Valley of the Kings, a retired military hero, General Suten, is improbably murdered by a horde of vipers that attack him on his rooftop sanctuary, and four virgin handmaids have disappeared from the Temple of Isis.

   Not improbably, Amerotke finds that the events are linked and that they pose a threat to the Pharaoh herself.

   I read this at a single sitting, propelled through it by the dazzling pyrotechnics of Doherty’s intricate plotting, and by the richly embroidered splendor of the court setting in which much of the novel is set.


JANE JAKEMAN – In the City of Dark Waters. Berkley Prime Crime, hardcover, May 2006.

   In this sequel to In the Kingdom of Mists, French Impressionist artist Claude Monet’s role is considerably reduced although there are a few passages describing him at his easel in Venice that have some of the magic of the earlier novel.

   There’s a new protagonist, British lawyer Revel Callendar, who’s doing a reduced version of the once obligatory European Tour in Venice when he’s drafted by the British consul to do some paperwork for the once powerful Casimiri family after the death of the principessa, a British citizen by birth and a Casimiri by marriage.

   The relationships in the crumbling, gloomy Casimiri palazio are as murky as the Venetian canals, and even more dangerous to outsiders. As if that situation weren’t enough to occupy him, Callendar, who’s introduced to Monet by the consul, accepts a commission from Monet to go to Paris to look in on the situation in the family of Monet’s wife, Alice, whose first husband has been murdered.

   There’s some similarity between the murders in the two families, but Jakeman’s handling of the interlocking story lines doesn’t quite come together, and the introduction of Monet and the Parisian episode, while interesting (and based on an actual event), seems too calculated to be entirely convincing. All in all, something of a disappointment.


   The Lord Amerotke Novels by P. C. Doherty. [Dates are those for the UK editions, all published by Headline.]

The Mask of Ra, 1998.


The Horus Killings, 1999.
The Anubis Slayings, 2000.
The Slayers of Seth, 2001.
The Assassins of Isis, 2004.
The Poisoner of Ptah, 2007.

   The Claude Monet novels by Jane Jakeman.

In the Kingdom of the Mists, 2004.


In the City of Dark Waters, 2006.