The Valley of the Nile has long nourished more than cotton and date palms: its soil has proved fertile for a growing number of authors who cast back through time to explore the delicately nuanced society of the ancient Egyptians. The region also seems a natural crossroads for the archaeological endeavor and the detective impulse: witness Elizabeth Peters's widely read Amelia Peabody series (The Ape Who Guards the Balance
, The Deeds of the Disturber
, etc.). Peters's spirited Victorian archeologist-sleuth has new competition in Carol Thurston's Kate McKinnon, an extraordinarily talented medical illustrator who loses her heart to Tashat, a 3,300-year-old mummy whose face Kate is painstakingly recreating for a Denver museum: "Tashat's body had been tightly swathed in linen, the outer layers stiffened with gesso and varnished to seal out moisture, then covered with a series of colorful scenes framed by gold bands that Kate thought might represent the landmarks in Tashat's short life, if only she could figure out how to read them."
The growing mystery surrounding the mummy (Why was she tortured before she died? Why is a man's head between her legs? What do the drawings that cover her casket mean? What of her striking resemblance to Nefertiti?) compel Kate to join detective forces with Max Cavanaugh, a radiologist and budding Egyptologist. Thurston's ambitious narrative partners the pair's research, intuition, and wild guesses with a slowly unfolding tale of love, deceit, and political upheaval, courtesy of interspersed sequences from the journal of Senekhtenre, an unorthodox physician from 1350 B.C. His stories of Nefertiti, Akhenaten, Tutankhamen, and Aset--a fascinating and equally outrageous young girl--will reveal the tantalizing keys to the mysteries Kate and Max are intent on solving.
The Eye of Horus contains perhaps more information than is really good for it: Thurston's careful, even obsessive, research in Egyptology and forensic archaeology is evident, but the material occasionally proves too heavy a burden for the plot to carry. Her sense of pacing is often phlegmatic, when her story cries out for a light and rapid touch. But even in its boggy patches, the novel is sure to captivate those with a taste for the ancient, the modern, the mysterious, and the eerily profound. --Kelly Flynn
From Kirkus Reviews
A complicated mystery thriller that weaves alternative history set in ancient Egypt with forensic archeology from the present. Medical illustrator Kate McKinnon and radiologist Max Cavanaugh join their artistic and medical talents when confronted by a mysterious mummy from 1350 B.C.E., a period of social and economic chaos following the reign of heretic Akhenaten. The intersecting narrative from the journal of ancient physician Tenre maintains suspense by keeping you a step ahead of Kate and Max's investigation of the fascinating mummy called Tashat. Her fractured bones, the male head between her legs, and the extensive and realistic drawings covering her coffin suggest an old story of sexual politics and royal murders. But can Kate uncover Tashet's identity and her link to the mysterious Nefertiti before she falls victim herself to the institutional politics of contemporary archeology-especially when their director, Dave Broverman, protects his chair almost as ruthlessly as successive pharaohs defended their thrones? Brave women artists here humanize daring male physicians, ancient and modern, in parallel tales of personal and professional intrigue, loss and recovery. Thurston pulls her tales together with a clever device that closes the forensic search and the ancient story simultaneously-Kate and Max read the ending to an audience of their own-though Max's unifying artifact and Kate's budding "genetic memory" both flirt with the fantastic and hint at a sequel.However far ahead you keep on the What, the teasing emphases on How and Why will drive them to the conclusion of the religious, medical, and social alternative histories that newcomer Thurston so stirringly mixes. -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.