August 08, 2004

Death of an Effendi, Michael Pearce

This is a little like The Last Kashmiri Rose in that the detective is an outsider several times over, in a setting very exotic to me. In this case, Egypt in the early twentieth century; the 'tec is a Welshman, so an outsider to the English, but also head of the Khedive's Secret Police.

Some of the incidental interest is in the comfortably distant troubles of empires and nations trying to disentangle themselves. Also, Kropotkin is important (offstage); and the prose is brisk and funny:

'Has anyone seen [the crocodiles]?'

'Well, Strabo reports—' began McPhee.

'Strabo? Is he one of your men?'

McPhee looked at him, astonished. 'Strabo died two thousand years ago,' he said.

'Surely you have more up-to-date information?' said the official.

Also delightful: there are another ten novels about this character, recently republished in the US.

ISBN: 1590580664

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