The act of observing an event changes an event.
And sometimes, the act of reviewing a book ruins it for the readers.
This is true for Arthur Phillip’s novel, The Egyptologist – how can one review a book for curious readers yet put up spoiler alerts? Rest assured – I’ll do my best not to give away any of the succulent moments or the gripping ending. So here goes…
The novel takes place directly in 1922, and indirectly in 1954. told entirely through correspondence. The primary writings are from the Egyptologist himself through his combination of his working journal and diary, seemingly fearful for his life following the discovery of a lifetime. The other thread comes from a depressingly retired detective in an Australian home, answering a written query (and desperately pitching a book deal on the subject). Other items, notes, cables, and bills, fill out the story.
So it’s a mystery (of sorts) without a central detective (discounting the case-overbilling Ferrell), inwhich the reader must follow the thread, without explanation nor exposition, piecing together the clues themselves, cutting through the lies and staying with it to its grim conclusion.
First off; don’t worry, it does become clear.
And secondly, it’s marvelous.
The story is a wonderful mix of deceptions, perceptions, deceits, prejudices, boasts, and dreams. And in it, a double murder, mobster involvement, pornography, Egyptology, slums and mansions, Australia and Boston and Oxford and Egypt, even twin acrobats who share corrupt pleasures on the fly.
As I said, I can’t tell you why you should read it.
Just read it.
Cats. Post. Bank. (if you read it, you’ll get the joke).