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Customer Review

415 of 478 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eh- Overrated., September 27, 2004
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This review is from: The Egyptologist: A Novel (Hardcover)
Negative reviews usually get dinged in the "helpfulness' department. I'll risk it anyway...At the very least I hope to be helpful even if you still want to read it- I'd at least like to adjust your expectations so you aren't as disappointed as I was/am.

I read the review for this in People magazine- I love books set among the pyramids, and the mystery/plot sounded intriguing. The review was really a rave, and seemed to imply that there might be some sort of a twist at the end...

Eh. There is. Well, there's supposed to be. But you figure it out pretty early on. An earlier reviewer here was generous and said you figure it out 1/2 through... but I don't think it takes that long. The book has a "get on w/ it" feel to it b/c you have it all figured out (even if you weren't really trying).

I don't think the intention is for you to figure it out. Instead, I think the dramatic tension is supposed to stem from the idea that you aren't (supposed to be) sure what happened to the missing (assumed murdered) people. But you are. So you are sorta bored.

This is a side note, but there isn't a single likable character in the entire story. This doesn't necessarily kill a story, but w/ a relatively nonmysterious mystery, little depth of Egypt in the 20s, and unlikable people... there's not much to root for. I had to force myself to finish it to see if I was missing something.

I wasn't.

If you want mysteries w/ some pretty good details of Egyptology, the Amelia Peabody series is amusing. It's certainly not high art (more light reading), but more interesting than this book.
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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-10 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 5, 2006 1:36:57 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 5, 2006 1:37:44 PM PST
S. Barton says:
I could not agree more with this reviewer. I kept reading, hanging on, hoping it would get better. It did not. The "twist" was so obvious. None of the characters had any endearing qualities. I really did not care what happened to any of them. If you are a mystery lover, avoid this one.

Posted on Dec 9, 2006 1:30:17 AM PST
M. Hagen says:
I also agree...I was completely let down at the end, hoping some kind of twist would be there, going, "Well maybe I was wrong", but no. It was ok, but...I would not recommend, it took me way too long, and I did not enjoy it very much.

Posted on Jan 14, 2007 4:06:45 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 14, 2007 4:08:56 PM PST]

Posted on Jan 14, 2007 4:08:27 PM PST
Vivian says:
100% agree with the comments. The book was an intolerable read because you figured out the mystery early on and way before any of the characters in the book. How boring is that?!?!?

Posted on Jun 17, 2007 6:54:24 PM PDT
anonymous says:
I agree with the opinion on unlikeable characters and the tediousness of the plot. However, I listened to the audio version so didn't get to read between the lines and didn't figure it out until the book ended. Then I went back to the written text and am finding the clues and saying "aha, now I see that" when I didn't hear it, but I still don't like any of the characters. I don't think I want to read either of his other novels based on this one.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2007 6:16:19 AM PDT
I don't see how the twist at the end can be obvious to anyone when it's open to interpretation. Sure, it's easy to tell Trilipush is an unreliable narrator, but as to what happens in the end, that's up to individual interpretation and so cannot be "obvious" at all.

Posted on Jul 5, 2008 9:26:06 AM PDT
Also, half the fun of the this book is not "figuring it out", but watching what new levels of absurdity the characters achieve in their grand self-deceptions. This is something that continues throughout the book to the last page. Trilipush is hilarious as he explains away previous assertions that don't come true, rearranges his outlandish expectations, and slowly sinks into total madness. What's not to like?

Posted on Aug 5, 2008 12:54:57 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 5, 2008 1:04:00 AM PDT
Aaron says:
I agree that the plot is rather easy to figure out and establish early on. But I felt the villain in the novel was rather well developed and fun to follow. He was an interesting mix of intelligence and childishness. I mean he could manipulate others to his will as a confidence trickster and yet when met with frustration he reverted to very base levels of jealousy envy and pride. He is a failure in his attempt to find a real Egyptian King and so he creates this fantasy land that you can't help but believe he has indeed convinced himself is real. That was interesting to me and helped my push through to the end of the novel. I thought the other characters were weel developed as well. I found it funny that the confident investigator made so many errors and comes so close to really solving the case but is blinded by lust and his own prideful ambitions. Fennerans is pleased with his daughters engagement to Trilipush only as long as he is sure that it will improve his standing as a Boston socialite and the same could be said of Margarette. And Marlowe whose confidence and arrogance quickly turned him into an easy target for betrayal. The books overall concept of mans obsession with immortality is explored well in just about every character. I think most people who didn't enjoy this book made the mistake of viewing the novel as a mystery. Really the author is using the mystery novel and the worlds fascination with Egyptology in the 1920's as a platform to discuss vanity and pride and the mistakes we make when we are consumed by our own hubris. But yes I do agree, at times I felt that since I already knew the answer to the mystery early on, sometimes I too had that "get on w/ it" feel. What makes this book really great though is that no one in the novel ever solves the mystery. We as the reader of all of the correspondence can piece things together and arrive at the only real conclusion but the characters remain aloof and lost in their own realities and subjective interpretations of the truth.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 5, 2008 12:57:16 AM PDT
Aaron says:
I really don't see how the murders were open to interpretation. It's really quite clear even halfway through the book what happened. And by the end one is left with one conclusion.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 5, 2008 12:59:03 AM PDT
Aaron says:
Agreed. I think people really missed the point of this book. They were reading it like it was an Agatha Christie mystery when really the book is a study of what you mentioned - grand self-deceptions.
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