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HEART OF THE NILE by Will Thomas: Book Review

The story of Cleopatra never grows stale.  As Shakespeare put it, “Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety.”  More than two millennia later, her lure is evident in Will Thomas’ latest mystery, Heart of the Nile.

Phillip Addison, a young schoolteacher working evenings at the British Museum in the hope of being offered a staff position, is cataloguing recent additions to the museum’s extensive mummy collection.  One of the mummies seems unusually heavy, and he realizes there is something hidden in the skeleton.

After much effort Addison is able to dislodge the object, which is a glowing red stone in the shape of a human heart.  Unsure of what to do with it and fearful of leaving it unguarded in the museum, he takes it with him and goes to the house of his supervisor, the head of the Egyptology Department, Dr. Hennings, to tell him of his discovery.

The following morning Elizabeth Addison, Phillip’s wife, comes to the office of Barker & Llewelyn, private enquiry agents in London.  She tells Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn that her husband left for work the previous evening but never returned home.  The couple is virtually alone in the world, and she is desperate to find him.

Barker and Llewelyn agree to look for Addison, and they begin their inquiries with Dr. Hennings.  He tells them that Addison had arrived at his house at 1:00 a.m., saying “he’d made a great discovery….It concerned a mummy that had been in collection for years.”  Hennings said he’d investigate the discovery in the morning and sent Addison away and that that was the last time he’d seen him.

Reluctantly, Hennings leads the two agents to the mummy in question, and upon close examination Llewelyn recognizes the cartouche, or pendant, as having the name Cleopatra written on it.  The Egyptologist downplays the importance of the cartouche but admits that there is a possibility that the young schoolteacher had found the mummy of the great queen.

Barker and Llewelyn next visit Liam Grant, a friend of both Llewelyn’s and Addison’s.  Grant tells them of the jewel that Addison had pressed upon him the previous night, shortly before Addison went to Hennings’ house, and Grant gladly gives it to Barker, delighted to be relieved of it.

Shortly after that Cyrus and Thomas receive a note that instructs them to go to the waterfront; there they sees the body of Phillip Addison, but he was stabbed, not drowned.  Sadly, Thomas informs Mrs. Addison of her husband’s death, and although they are no longer searching for Addison, they vow to continue investigating until they discover who murdered him.

Reading a novel by Will Thomas is stepping back into the 19th century.  The brusque Cyrus Barker and the more sensitive Thomas Llewelyn make a formidable pair, determined to find the murderer and try to bring some comfort to Phillip’s widow.  As always, a Will Thomas mystery is a delight.

You can read more about the author at various sites on the web.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.


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