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by P.C. Doherty
St Martin's Minotaur, February 2008
380 pages
ISBN: 0312359624

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

A prisoner, Rekhet, escapes from incarceration in the Redlands, the desert that covers Egypt except for the fertile Nile valley. He makes his way east to Thebes.

In Thebes, there is a royal reception. Pharaoh Hatusu (Hatshepsut), is sitting on her throne, with the Grand Vizier,Senenmut and Lord Amerotke, Chief Judge, flanking her. In front of her are five condemned prisoners, whom she promptly executes after proper ceremony. Next comes the signing of a peace treaty with Libya. The three Libyan ambassadors drink from the sacred wine cup, then the three Priests of Ptah drink, in order to seal the treaty. Except the Egyptians fall dead, poisoned.

More strange deaths follow. The Rekhet, The Poison Demon, is seen within the crowd. Several years earlier, there had been a spate of deaths by poison. Once Rekhet was sent to prison, the murders ceased. Now he is back and they have begun again.

Lord Amerotke does not believe Rekhet, who had been a priest of Ptah and had access to all sorts of treatises on poisons, is responsible for these new deaths, so he investigates. He searches for the Ari Sapu, the Book of Doom, a compendium on poisons, which supposedly was destroyed when its author was executed.

Doherty shows us the life of ancient Egypt in exquisite detail....at least the life of the upper classes. It is as if the tomb paintings and death offerings found in the Valley of the Kings have come to life and we see a snapshot of a few days. As a child, I always dreamed what it would be like to live in ancient Egypt. I loved to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and crawl around in the fake tomb they had there. After reading THE POISONER OF PTAH, I felt as though I had paid another visit.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, June 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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