Top critical review
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Interesting idea, poor execution
on 15 March 2014
I was initially intrigued by this book. The idea of an embalmer in ancient Egypt using their skills to solve crime seemed like a good premise. Tie that in with a gem smuggling operation and it would seem like one has a good plot in hand. However, it was the execution that let this book down. None of the problems with the book were huge issues, they were all small niggles, but together they added up. The text is peppered with grammatical errors, misspellings, and even the spellings of characters' names changes throughout. This is rather distracting, and doesn't exactly look professional.
The author seems to have fallen into the trap of trying too hard to avoid using the word "said". Characters too often "demanded", "challenged", "professed", "deadpanned", "decreed" and so on. Sometimes they "challenged" or "professed" three or four times in just a couple of paragraphs. This sticks out like a sore thumb precisely because those words are not frequently used, and thus appear strangely overused here.
Speaking of the dialogue, it felt a little off. Characters persistently said things such as "not really", "sure", and "are you okay" was so overused, every other scene seemed to have "are you okay". It's not glaringly anachronistic, but "okay" just doesn't feel like it belongs in the mouths of ancient Egyptian characters, especially when it only came into common use in the 19th century. It just feels too typically modern.
The antagonists were a little too villainous. Beating servants, throwing screaming fits in front of strangers, utterly without scruples, lacking any redeeming points whatsoever.
The mystery is given away too early. There's a scene written from the perspective of the unknown murderer, and whilst the murderer isn't named his thoughts and actions make it perfectly clear who it is. This came at 41% into the book. This is too soon, it gives the game away too early. Tension needed to be built higher by waiting to reveal this twist. The pacing felt a little off too, talking about how the reveal occurred too early and tension needed to be built.
It all felt a bit too slapdash and unpolished, is how I would sum up the issues in this book. Good idea, but unpolished execution.