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106 of 117 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book's title may mislead readers who, not knowing James Patterson's vast outpouring of detective fiction, expect a scholarly archaeological study of the circumstances surrounding the death of Tutankhamen, the Pharaoh popularly known as "King Tut." THE MURDER OF KING TUT is no such thing. It is a shrewd blend of fact and fiction, an airy set of variations on an Egyptian theme, told in short chapters that whiz back and forth between 1300 BC, the 1920s and the present day.

Patterson and Martin Dugard are not shy about touting the amount of research they put into this concoction, but the reader who is not himself an Egyptologist will have to be on constant alert to distinguish fact from fiction. Did Tut really marry his own sister?

The basic historical framework is well known --- the attempt by Tut's father Akhenaten to turn Egypt away from polytheism to the worship of a single god by building a new capital city dedicated to that god and far removed from Thebes, the ancient capital. Tutankhamen became Pharaoh as a child, ruled for only a decade or so and died under circumstances that Patterson and Dugard see as a murder plot spawned by Tut's failure to produce a male heir to the throne. They finger three villains: Tut's younger sister whom he married in an unsuccessful effort to produce the needed heir, a villainous general and an equally sneaky high-level "grand vizier." There is a smattering of rather sanitized sex in the book and a satisfactory amount of blood and gore, delivered rather casually. A good many people end up being beheaded or with their throats cut, as was evidently the ancient Egyptian custom in matters of high state policy.

The authors tell their story in a series of tiny chapters --- 100 of them, plus prologue and epilogue in a book of 332 pages. The palace intrigue thread is counterpointed by the story of Howard Carter, the English Egyptologist who uncovered the tomb. Carter left a detailed narrative of his work, from which Patterson and Dugard quote liberally. They have, however, gone well beyond Carter's own account, embroidering and elaborating the story with invented scenes and picturesque stage-setting. I was reminded while reading of an Abraham Lincoln exhibit I once attended in which a pair of eyeglasses was displayed with this caption: "Lincoln seldom wore glasses, but if he had, they might have looked something like these."

My guess is that Patterson did the writing while Dugard served mainly as researcher. The book reads easily as the brief chapters glide by --- a bag of literary popcorn. The writing style is breezily modern. Patterson, clever fellow, even manages to work in a plug for himself, quoting Time Magazine's description: "the man who can't miss."

On the day I read this book, it was announced that James Patterson has signed a deal with his publisher for 17 new books, and early in this one he reports that in his study there lay manuscripts of 24 books lying around in various unfinished states. To call this man prolific would be like describing Babe Ruth as a baseball player.

This latest book in that literary tidal wave may be described as a kind of historically based entertainment. One doubts that the question of how and why Tutankhamen died figures on anybody's list of top priority concerns these days, but Patterson and Dugard have turned it into a pleasant afternoon's escapist diversion. It may melt away quickly in the mind and memory, but, like popcorn, it leaves a distinctive aftertaste.

--- Reviewed by Robert Finn
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125 of 143 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
James Patterson should not have lent his name to this book. Why did he do it? Was it greed or bad judgement? Or perhaps both? I don't know, but THE MURDER OF KING TUT is most certainly unreadable--a juvenile sleight-of-hand non fiction that abuses Mr Patterson's reputation as a writer of fiction, and a cruel joke on those willing to invest their time and money on a writer they've come to admire, enjoy and trust.

Paterson paints a false portrait of Howard Carter, showing him as a difficult and disagreeable man, without considering or even realizing that almost immediately after Carter's discovery of the tomb, he and his party were victimized by a deluge of humanity. Newspaper correspondents flocked into the valley dispelling any opportunity to get down to the business of excavation. Standing knee deep in artifacts that would shatter into dust at the slightest touch, Carter had to fend off visitors of every stripe. The visitors came armed with guide books, gawking and descending on workers who tried to emerge from the tomb with delicate artifacts. There were American students with their jazz age slang, half drunk from spending half the night in the bar of the Winter Palace hotel, hucksters, and reporters. On they came, an army of people, arriving on donkeys and two horse cabs , setting up camps, staking claims on the rim of the excavation, from morning until night, knitting, photographing, singing and in some cases getting quite drunk. And if all this wasn't bad enough, royalty and diplomats insisted on private tours. The Egyptian government felt obliged to grant every request for tours, forcing poor Carter to spend days away from the onerous task of labeling all of the artifacts in situ, and preserving and cataloging them. All of this would be enough to drive any sane archaeologist half mad, a fact noted by Arthur Mace, Egyptologist with the Metropolitan Museum, and co-author of Carter's published journal, when he reported that Carter was close to having a nervous breakdown. If Carter, under these circumstances seemed short-tempered, the compassionate researcher would have had to give Carter the benefit of doubt. No such generosity is found in Patterson's book--the sort of thing that happens when the biographer depends on secondary sources and willing to trade his name for research.

I do not like to slam authors, but Mr. Patterson has written a book that purports to be nonfiction, and in doing so ran the risk of having the book exposed for what it is, a sham and a lie, a silly cartoon vision of a great archaeological find, and the inexcusable defamation of an honored British Archaeologist--Howard Carter.

Readers interested in Howard' Carter's world, Egypt of the 1920's, as well as the most exciting archaeological discovery of the Twentieth Century, should read T.G.H James's HOWARD CARTER:THE PATH TO TUTANKHAMUN. Mr. James is the former keeper of Egyptian antiquities at the Briitsh Museum, and his book is considered the ultimate authority on Howard Carter and that tumultuous period covering the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, and the events that followed. James is a pro and he'll keep the pages turning.
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49 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
James Patterson has divided this book into three alternating storylines: the ancient life of King Tut, Howard Carter's excavation of his tomb, and the author's writing of this work, though he admits to not being interested enough to actually do any heavy research for himself. That was left up to the secondary author, and it shows. Not only is the larger thought that Tut was assassinated an old chestnut, but the actual idea of who was behind it has already been offered in real books on Egyptology, and even documentary films. It is a sin that this book is being marketed as anything but fiction, period. Patterson would have the reader believe that he not only came up with the idea of the boy king being assassinated, and who orchestrated the deed, but also that he discovered the name, personal history, and physical appearance of the lackey who actually committed the act. Ridiculous, and dishonest. I kept waiting for some type of disclaimer by Patterson, maybe even a bibliography for the reader who might want to know more, but apparently ego would not allow that. If you want to read about the theorized murder of Tutankhamun by someone who has actually spent time doing real research to back up his ideas, I recommend Bob Brier's very readable book on the subject The Murder of Tutankhamen. A final small gripe: with all of the photographs that have depicted Tut's tomb and treasures, and the existence of photos of Howard Carter, why is this book illustrated only by drawings that are children's book respectable at best?

That said, I would have still recommended this book as a decent read for someone in upper elementary school or junior high, because the reading level is certainly something he or she could easily handle. Unfortunately, the fictionalized parts also stir in a fair amount of sex, just to keep the masses reading.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When a writer claims to have solved some long ago crime, he'd better produce the proof. Getting the book listed as non-fiction doesn't hack it. According to the introduction in this book, the writers are about to extablish the fact that King Tut was murdered and exactly whodunit. But it is all a complete fizzle, mere speculation based on no real evidence. There is a warmed over account of Howard Carter's finding the tomb, based upon Carter's writings--and nothing else that matters.

Writers have tried this before. There is a book about the murder of Napoleon and a book by Patricia Cornwell that claims to reveal the name of Jack the Ripper. In the Napoleon book at least there is forensic evidence, the amount of arsenic in multiple hair samples from a multitude of sources, along with a list of those present when the hair samples were taken. By deduction the author named the killer. It's iffy but possible. In the Cornwell book the author claimed that a little known artist was Jack the Ripper, mostly because the artist painted macabre pictures. Any first year law student could destroy that under cross examanination.

Patterson's book, while fun to read, if only to list the absurdities, is not even up to the Cornwell book. The writing is poor, as usual for a Patterson book. He needs a new editor, one who knows the difference between robbery and burglary, between cement and concrete, that like is not a conjunction, that the past tense of sneak is not snuck, and so forth. He also might have had a competent Egyptologist and forensic pathologist look over the manuscript before it was rushed into print.

What it comes down to is guesswork, which is not crime solving--or even determination that a crime was indeed afoot thousands of years back. Young Tut may have died in any number of ways. There is no proof that he was murdered. A fall from the chariot he apparently drove alone...a bite from an asp...an infected mosquito bite... The flu... Take your pick from those or a dozen other causes. It may be fun to speculate that he was murdered, but there are simpler and just as likely explanations.

The fact is that Patterson is simply a bad writer who turns out potboilers of the worst sort. Avoid this one. There's a better book about the death of Tutankhamun. Read that instead.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Don't waste your time or your money on this book. It takes about 2 hours to read and contains absolutely no new or relevant information on the subject, even though it is supposed to be a well researched novel. My grandchildren know more about Egyptology than these guys. To add insult to injury, Patterson inserts three totally irrelevant chapters interspersed throughout the book that have no bearing on the story, and talk about his high end lifestyle in Lake Worth. I do not buy books to hear the author brag about his possessions, and that sort of vanity trip has no place in the work of a professional. It is nice, however, that he will be able to purchase a game of golf on my dime. Don't buy this book--this guy doesn't need the money and certainly doesn't have any talent. Rating--NO Stars!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Patterson doesn't hesitate to toot his own horn at one point in this book by noting that Time Magazine once described him as "the man who can't miss." Time Magazine was wrong. Patterson can miss, and he did with this one, badly. It is clear that Patterson has gone from an artist who created intriguing mysteries to someone who cares less for his readers than he does about churning out one shallow tome after another. Is he even doing his own writing these days? It seems to me that he's doing a general outline and then passing it off to whomever the publisher lines up as the co-author. This time he abused his readers however by putting out a poorly written, juvenile pseudo-historical account. He had the audacity to label it "non-fiction" when in fact it is highly fictionalized. There is no historical record of the conversations between the ancient egyptian rulers, yet Patterson introduces verbal exchanges without acknowledging that he simply made them up. Further, he seems to have created his theory of murder based solely on amateruish interpretations of hieroglyphics he hasn't personally seen, and his own presumptions about the line of succession to the throne. For example, what evidence does he have that Tut's queen was fed to the crocodiles other than the fact that her remains have never been found?

Patterson took advanatge of the faith his readers bestow upon him, as many of us purchase his books in advance of any customer reviews. Personally I'm getting tired of his weak efforts of late.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
One of my favorite things to read about is Ancient Egypt, Tut in particular, so I was curious about this book. While I did enjoy reading it, I was disappointed when I was finished. The subtitle is "A Nonfiction Thriller"...ok, Tut DID exist and he DID die and he WAS discovered by Howard Carter...those are proven facts. As for the "rest of the story" - it read like FICTION! Entertaining, but what was REAL? I'm of the mindset that "If you can't PROVE it, don't SAY it!" (and then call it "nonfiction"). We don't know the emotions and conversations that went on during Tut's reign...so most of what Patterson wrote of those times was pure speculation - ie, FICTION. If this was "NONFICTION", why did Patterson NOT INCLUDE a bibliography of all of his sources and research materials that would back up this story? And where's the PROOF that Tut was murdered? It's common knowledge that Carter and his team damaged the mummy's body during the exhumation process. I enjoyed learning more about the years-long search for Tut's tomb, but as for the rest of it - what a waste of time (and money...) This book is like some of the relics found in Tut's tomb - A CROCK.
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
James Patterson and Martin Dugard's non-fiction thriller "The Murder of King Tut" reads like a Patterson novel but filled with facts. The authors have the theory that Tut was murdered and develop that idea with thorough research. The book has you going through three time period. The period of Tut, which was quite fascinating to read; the tale of Howard Carter, the archeologist obsessed with finding the tomb in the early part of last century and present day (Patterson's life being consumed by the mystery of Tut). In Patterson's usual style, the chapters are short, making it an easy read. He presents his theory, but I am not sure he convinced me. It was a thrilling read and I enjoyed it much better than some of his other recent works.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Most of the reviews have said it all before, but I'll throw my vote into the one-star ring. The book adds absolutely nothing to the stories of either Tut or Carter and speculates wildly on both parts of the story. In addition to having 3000-years-dead people speak in direct quotes, he gives his characters--and I do mean characters and not historical figures--modern sensibilities. Each time Patterson mentioned his "research," I got the biggest laugh I have had in a long time. I gave up on his Alex Cross character several books ago. This slog of a read reminded me why. And the most astounding thing about it all is that 17 people have seen fit to give this work 5 stars!!!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2009
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I can't imagine anyone would enjoy this book unless they are completely ignorant of Howard Carter and his discovery of Tut's tomb, and/or have no knowledge of Tut's life. If you have the most basic knowledge of either, you will find this book incredibly dull. The book moves from ancient Egypt and the time leading up to Tut's birth to Carter's life and experiences in the early 1900s on his digs and then the author's decision to write the book. Didn't learn anything I haven't already picked up here and there watching the Discovery or History channels. Total waste of money and my day.
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