This is the first in the mystery series in Ancient Egypt and Lieutenant Bak as the main character. He’s the detective at the fortress of Buhen.

The book starts when Bak and Troop Captain Nebwa are summoned to the presence of the fortress’ commander, Thuty. Nebwa’s wife has just given birth to their first son and Nebwa is celebrating. However, Bak manages to drag him off and Nebwa challenges him to skiff race. Misfortune strikes and Bak’s skiff overturns and so he finds a dead body floating in the river.

Bak and his three friends haul the body out of the water and search it. It seems to be a high-born officer and he seems to have been murdered. Commander Thuty isn’t happy because he has a more pressing concern: the Lord Amon is coming down the river on its way to the fortress of Iken where it should heal an ailing young prince. The statue is made of gold and so the soldiers have to guard it very carefully. Also, they expect an influx of crowds to see the god and possibly more thieves and muggers.

However, the murdered man turns out to be the son of the Chancellor to the Queen Hatshepsut herself and he expects quick results. And so Bak is assigned to solve the murder. He must travel to the fortress Iken where the murder victim, Puemre, has been assigned as the officer. There he finds out that Puemre is was much loved by his troops who consider him to be a brave and honest leader. However, Puemre’s fellow officers disagree; some of them dislike the favor his family ties give him and all resent his ambitious ways. Bak feels that he has too many suspects.

In addition he find a subtle clue which seem to point that there’s a conspiracy to murder a Kushite king Amon-Psaro and start a war between the Kush tribes and Egypt. Amon-Psaro is brining his son the prince to see the god Amon so that the god would heal the boy. Bak’s time is running out.

Haney writes well. She manages to bring the setting to life with descriptions of details. Bak’s skeptical attitudes towards the healing abilities of the statue seem a bit too modern but otherwise the characters seem quite historical. Bak and his friends are lower class so the scenes are all of the ordinary life of people at the time.

The plot moves a little slowly at times but later on it has quite a few twists. The characters are engaging and likable for the most part.