BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Monday, April 30, 2012

Review of The Egyptian by Layton Green

Publisher: First Ward

Release Date: August 21, 2011
Series: Dominic Grey #2
Buying Links: Amazon    

Book Blurb (from goodreads):

*Contains spoilers for the first book*

At a mausoleum in Cairo’s most notorious cemetery, a mercenary receives a package containing a silver test tube suspended in hydraulic stasis. 

An investigative reporter tracking rogue biomedical companies is terrified by the appearance of a mummified man outside her Manhattan apartment. 

A Bulgarian scientist who dabbles in the occult makes a startling discovery in his underground laboratory. 

These seemingly separate events collide when Dominic Grey and Viktor Radek, private investigators of cults, are hired by the CEO of an Egyptian biomedical firm to locate stolen research integral to the company’s new life extension product. However, after witnessing the slaughter of a team of scientists by the remnants of a dangerous cult thought long abandoned, Grey and Viktor turn from pursuers to pursued. 

From the gleaming corridors of visionary laboratories to the cobblestone alleys of Eastern Europe to a lost oasis in the Sahara, Grey and Viktor must sift through science and myth to uncover the truth behind the Egyptian and his sinister biotech – before that truth kills them.

"In every myth and legend there's truth to be found. Whether or not the truth behind the myth has anything to do with extraordinary or supernatural forces is a different question entirely. We must separate reality from desire, or truth will forever remain hidden."
"Still the nonbeliever, I see."
"You know my work better than that. I don't discount possibilities, nor do I take my personal beliefs into account."
"The forgotten dungeons of alchemy are not the only source of the legend. The legend of a liquid that grants the gift of immortality is one of mankind's oldest and most persistent myths."
Reviewed By: Bea

*May contain spoilers for the first book* 

My Thoughts:

I greatly enjoyed the first Dominic Grey book, "The Summoner". It was a complex, layered, detailed psychological and religious mystery. "The Egyptian" also delves into religion and psychology in this mystery but it has a more topical theme of bio-technology and a seemingly timeless theme of immortality, or at the least, a greatly extended life span.

This book starts about three months after the events in the first book. Nya is still recovering and has pushed away Grey. He loves her, he thinks, but feels powerless to help her in any way. He is depressed at the start of the book, and is aware of it. It doesn't help that he hasn't had any assignments to work on in the past few months. So, he runs daily and waits for a job.

When he meets with a client, there are oddities about the case, but he decides to take the job. If nothing else, it will keep him busy.
...and if Viktor wanted him to check it out, then he would. At this point he'd investigate a stolen church hymnal in northern Canada.
The investigation, and its after effects occur in the US, Bulgaria and Egypt. With more time spent traveling, Green is less able to give us an in-depth characterization of the countries where the story occurs but you still get a feel for them. Zimbabwe, where "The Summoner", was set, was an important part of the first book and Green gave it depth, so that it was almost another character and not just an exotic locale for the story.

This story is more character driven than the first book, with Grey dealing with depression, a romantic break up, a possible new romance, and a new job. With all of that going on, it's not surprising he's depressed, and it occasionally messes up his thinking on the job. He also takes a chance and trusts someone who initially he thought might be a criminal. Of course, things are rarely simple and before long, nothing is what it seemed.

I admit, I had high expectations for this book and maybe that was not a good idea. "The Egyptian" didn't grip me the same way that "The Summoner" did. I also found, and this is not necessarily a bad thing, that I was more able to put this down and read in intervals, unlike the first book which was best read in a few sittings. I liked that we got to know Grey better in this book and seeing him deal with his problems. There's some character growth in addition to the mysteries, both legal and religious. One thing that slowed the book down for me was Green's tendency to drop massive info dumps on the reader. Much of the recap was unnecessary and the rest of it could have been more smoothly worked in. Also, as in "The Summoner", the language is sometimes over the top. Re-reading my review of "The Summoner", I realized that that story was more chilling; this one was less horrifying to me, perhaps due to the more scientific nature of certain events and the investigation.

Still, it was a delight to see Egyptian mythology used in new and unexpected ways, and mummies too. Green is good at throwing in twists and surprises and I do enjoy the religion and mythology that he works into the stories. It's integral to the mysteries but the stories are not religious in the sense of pushing a particular religion or belief set. Instead, the mysteries are the result of illegal actions people have committed in the name of their religion and the religion itself is integral to the events.

Despite my disappointments and quibbles, "The Egyptian" is still a good, solid, mystery. The characters are intriguing, both the characters and the story are layered and complex, and Green has a real understanding of human psychology and human nature. It's definitely worth your time.

For another perspective, check out the review at Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews.
I received a Kindle book from the author for review. 

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