The main characters in this book are a father and son investigative team. Lord Meren is Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s Eyes and Ears, and as such the chief investigator. Lord Meren’s adoptive son Kysen works as his partner. They have good relationship both during work and outside of it.

The Place of Anubis is the place where the bodies of the deceased are prepared for mummification and so it’s a holy place. A group of priests and workmen find that someone has left a murdered body there, and quite possibly committed a murder there, and so desecrated the place. The chief priests are of course leaning on the 14-years old Pharaoh to quickly find the murderer and execute him.

Lord Meren and his son are commanded to find the murderer and they have a tight schedule. They search the Place of Anubis without finding anything of note. One of the workers there recognized the body: he’s Hormin, a scribe whom everyone seems to have hated. Lord Meren concentrates on Hormin’s family: his two sons, wife, and a concubine. The concubine is notorious for her greed and for the number of men she entertains. Hormin’s long-suffering wife hates the concubine but loves her family. Hormin’s eldest son isn’t too quick witted and Hormin has always scorned him because of it. The son, Imsety, is however a good at supervising farms and wanted his father to sell his farm to him. Hormin refused and everyone thinks he didi it just out of spite. Hormin’s second son, Djaper, is also a scribe and very intelligent and ambitious which his father didn’t approve of either. Many think that Djaper could have been promoted over Hormin. Then there are of course the other scribes who didn’t like Hormin’s acidic nature at all. At the same time, there is intrigue brewing in the court.

The concubine is from the village of the tomb-makers who seem to know quite a bit about Hormin and his household. Meren sends his son, Kysen, there undercover as his servant. Kysen had a difficult childhood before Meren adopted him: Kysen’s biological father beat him and finally sold him into slavery. And he and his family live and work in the tomb-makers village so Kysen has to both hunt a murderer and confront his family.

This is quite an impressive first novel and has character development, historical detail, and a mystery. Meren is a complex character: Tuthankhamun’s father tried to convert him forcibly to the cult of the one god and Meren still bears the scars from that, both mental and physical. Yet he’s a loving father to his three daughters and adopted son, and also a father figure to the young Pharaoh.

Kysen is also a scarred character. In addition to his difficult childhood he has a barely civil relationship with his former wife. He also raises their son. Yet he enjoys his work, at least when it doesn’t involve confronting his biological family.

The book is fast-paced but doesn’t feel rushed. Robinson’s style is quite sparse; she doesn’t much describe or explain things. However, I got the impression that she knows the culture very well and the characters feel very historical to me.

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