The Snake Catcher's Daughter: A Mamur Zapt Mystery (Mamur Zapt Mysteries (Paperback)) Paperback – 1 Apr 2007
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Pearce, Michael. The Snake Catcher's Daughter. Apr. 2003 202p. Poisoned Pen, $24.95 (1-59058-051-6).
Gareth Owens, Cairo's Intrepid Mamur Zapt (head of the secret police), is back in another seriocomic adventure that is both witty and engrossing. After finding a naked woman in his bed, and after a diamond necklace mysteriously appears in his girlfriend's boudoir, Owen decides someone is trying to bribe him. Then the local newspaper prints a stinging indictment not only of Owen but also of Garvin, commandant of the Cairo police, and his assistant, McPhee.
In the course of his investigation, Owen becomes involved in a women's purification ritual, meets a rare female snake catcher, and incurs the wrath of his girlfriend. As usual, though, Owen is at all times the epitome of unflappability, and his calm, sensible, highly intuitive approach eventually leads him to the culprit. Recommend this droll and amusing novel to fans of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series (Pearce is Peters'equal to evoking bygone Cairo) or to anyone who enjoys the comic mystery.
From the Back Cover
Gareth Owen, aka the Mamur Zapt, Head of Cairo's Secret Police, finds himself in a compromising position, and not by accident, either. It gradually emerges that Cairo's senior policemen are the subject of a smear campaign: a campaign which raises uncomfortable questions about the integrity of Garvin, Commandant of the Cairo Police, and his puritannical deputy, McPhee.
The Mamur Zapt himself is suspected but is he above suspicion? His girlfriend, Zeinab, is not the only one who'd like to know. Owen's attempts to answer these questions take him into hitherto uncharted territory: the underworld of Cairo's female rites; the arcane profession of one of Egypt's traditional crafts – snake-catching. How do you milk a cobra? Do snakes have ears?
‘Diverting, droll and original…Positively oxygenated with charm’
PHILIP OAKES, 'Literary Review'
‘Pearce…takes apart ancient history and reassembles it with beguiling wit and colour’
JOHN COLEMAN, 'Sunday Times'
Top Customer Reviews
The Mamur Zapt or head of the Secret Police, is a Welshman who is thus outside the ranks of the Cambridge old boys who run every other British aspect of the administration. Gareth Owen finds that someone is trying to smear the police with possible corruption. A man who is keen to watch an ancient ritual is missing, and he is eventually found in a cistern full of snakes. Who is responsible? All the threads tie in and the snake-catcher's daughter, an exception in many ways to the women of her society, because of assisting in her father's occupation, is called upon to display her skills more than once.
We meet rich and poor, traditional and modern, helpful and scheming people. Description is pared to a minimum in order to get on with the story in the scorching, dusty heat. I had not read any earlier books in this series but enjoyed this one thoroughly and I will be looking out for more.