I read and really enjoyed the third book in this series, Very Important Corpses – see my review here – so when I spotted this one on the Netgalley dashboard, I immediately requested it.
Death shall come on swift wings to whoever desecrates this tomb … Ishmael Jones and his partner Penny have been summoned to remote Cardavan House, home of the world’s largest private collection of Ancient Egyptian artefacts, for the unveiling of George Cardavan’s latest acquisition: a bone fide Egyptian mummy. When a bloodstained body is discovered beside the empty sarcophagus, Ishmael is dismissive of the theory that the mummy’s curse is to blame. Instead he sets out to uncover the human killer responsible. But how can Ishmael explain the strange, shuffling footsteps that creep along the corridors? Who is playing games with them … and why?
This is a classic locked-room murder mystery with some very familiar elements – the ancient Egyptian artefacts complete with a curse; a powerful family all very grumpy with each other; complete isolation with no immediate help forthcoming. Given this is set in a more or less contemporary Britain, the final element takes some arranging – however Green manages to achieve the sense of the house being completely cut off without too much suspension of disbelief.
His protagonist, Ishmael Jones, is an interesting character – I don’t want to veer into spoiler territory, so I’ll just mention that he isn’t necessarily what he appears to be. This brings it set of problems, which play nicely with the hidden antagonist striking down victims within the house.
Green is an experienced writer and gives us a gripping read that had me reluctant to put it down as once the action takes off, the tension steadily mounts. I also like the odd moments of light relief provided by Ishmael’s right-hand woman, Penny, who happens to be the love of his life. They are a solid team, though Ishmael is also aware his concern for her welfare can be a weakness, but cannot bear the thought of leaving her behind as he takes this important, unofficial mission. I like the bond between them – the steady fondness and Penny’s sprightly banter provides the necessary moments of humour and humanity before we are once more plunged back into a situation where a crazed killer is on the loose.
The key to crafting such a mystery is that the solution has to provide a satisfactory explanation that has sufficient heft so the reader doesn’t feel cheated – it’s quite tricky to achieve. Green manages to satisfactorily wrap up the story, though there is a cost to the survivors and as his immediate boss is right in the middle of this mess, I’m interested to see how this impacts on their working relationship in future. This is an enjoyable murder mystery with a paranormal twist which comes recommended for fantasy fans who want a break, or crime fans who would appreciate reading something slightly different.
While I obtained the arc of Death Shall Come from the publisher via NetGalley, this has in no way influenced my unbiased review.
This sounds like a thoroughly gripping read and one that I would enjoy. I’ll make a note for my wishlist. Would you say this can be read as a standalone or is it necessary to backtrack?
No – Green is very deft at giving little slices of necessary information from his backstory, so this one can easily be read as a standalone.
I can’t believe I’ve never read a Simon Green book before. This one sounds really good, and I like the idea of an Egyptian curse! Awesome review!
Thank you, Tammy:). Green is great fun and I really enjoy his writing.
This sounds good, Sarah, and I haven’t read anything by Simon Green. Would you suggest starting with this series or should I start with one of his other series?
This one is highly enjoyable, but I’ve also really liked his Secret History series where he pays tribute to James Bond. He’s a very prolific writer…
Thanks, Sarah. I think I will just see what I can find at a good price!
I’ve added this series to my list. I hope to grab the first book soon and dive in. Sounds so good, Sarah!
Yes – I think you’d enjoy this series, Laura. Green is an experienced author and I think it shows in the character of Ishmael Jones.
I always like it when i see a new book in a series I follow pop up on netgalley, those are the books when i hit request as soon as possible. This sounds like a good series. I don’t think I’ve read a locked room mystery so far, but I like the idea. I like how you describe the couple in this one. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one!
Thank you, Lola:). This is an enjoyable murder mystery with lots going on.
Fantastic review. Added to the list 🙂
I’ve heard a lot of good things about Simon R. Greene, but for some reason, this series doesn’t seem to grab me. But I’ve read your review… it’s almost like reading the book, right? 😉
Lol… Almost! I don’t think this one would suit you, either Joanna:)
Yeah, I think I’ll try more speculative of his works first. (When I get through my TBR pile.)