Hani, a foreign service scribe and member of the elite ruling class of an Egyptian kingdom, 1343 BCE, is assigned by King Nefer-khepru-ra to investigate a series of tomb-robberies of well-known aristocrats in the area. Ham is stubborn and persistent, and isn’t about to be deterred by the many dangers facing such an investigation. He quickly learns that emissaries from other nearby countries are involved, and possibly traitors from his own kingdom. It’s feared that the most royal, sacred tombs will be next unless the culprits are apprehended.
SCEPTER OF FLINT reads nicely as a Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes, private eye sort of mystery. There are clues, suspects, secrets, and a little bit of action. But the real joy of the book is the setting, geography, history, and characters. Author N.L. Holmes has presented a nicely laid out introduction to the territories along the Nile at that period of history. In an entertaining way, it gives a terrific feel for the politics, governmental arrangements, and foreign entanglements of the time, apparently a particularly unstable period when new ideas, new rulers, and even new gods were being introduced. Loyalties were questioned and it wasn’t clear who a person could trust. In addition to larger issues, the mystery also gives a thorough picture of everyday life, family relationships, social mores (including homosexuality), and the role of women, as well as other groups in society. Hani is a wonderful lead investigator—smart, loveable, and brave. The supporting characters are also nicely drawn.
This Hani mystery is the third book in a series (The Lord Hani Mysteries), and while it stands on its own, the many characters, place-names and relationships do come at the reader in abundance. Starting at the first book might make things clearer. The mystery itself is difficult to follow and gets summed up fairly quickly at the end, with a twist, of course. Mystery readers who like to try to solve a book halfway through won’t be satisfied; there’s not enough to go on and it’s frankly not that kind of novel.
In SCEPTER OF FLINT (The Lord Hani Mysteries Book 3), author N.L. Holmes delivers an engaging historical murder mystery that’s fun to read, highly informative and full of wonderful characters set in the changing political landscape of Egypt, 1343 BCE.
~Dave Eisenstark for IndieReader