Table of Contents

Spring 2009

From The Editor

Letter from Jack Getze

Short Stories

Patrick Whittaker

9:03

Anthony Rainone

Fall to Pieces

Phil Beloin

Late, After Dinner

Jake Nantz

Midnight on the Links

Stephen D. Rogers

Queen Anne's Lace

Mike Sheeter

Blue Fugazzi

David Moss

The Sleepy Pines Nursing Home

Fiona Kay Crawford

Successful Surgeon

Graham Powell

The Ins and Outs

John Towler

The Fall

Damien Seaman

Thursday Night Blowout

Matthew Acheson

Writing on the Wall

Interviews

Sandra Ruttan with Russel D. McLean

Declan Burke with Brian McGilloway

Jim Napier with Phyllis Smallman

Brian Lindenmuth with Craig McDonald

Reviews by:

P.A. Brown

Mexican Heat

Gloria Feit

Friend of the Devil

Theodore Feit

Death Was in the Picture

A Beautiful Place to Die

Night and Day

Claire McManus

The Hanged Man

The Poisoner of Ptah

My Sister, My Love

The Cruelest Month

Jim Winter

Trigger City

The Fourth Victim

TKO

Bookspot Review Roundup

Book Excerpt

The Big O
by Declan Burke

Featured Article

Passing of the Torch - Celebrated crime novelist dies
by Jim Napier

The Poisoner of Ptah

Our book club's book for February was THE POISONER OF PTAH, by P.C. Doherty.  We chose this one because we have been wanting to read a historical mystery to take us away from the cold and misery of winter.  A lot of good suggestions came up, but we decided to focus on ancient Egypt.  We had read another Egyptian book last year (One of the Mamur Zapt titles) and we were very disappointed in that one, so we figured we should not give up on Egypt just because that book was not what we had hoped for.
 
By process of elimination, we arrived at this one, and we were glad we did.
 
At the signing of a peace treaty between Egypt and Libya, three people die violently as the result of a poisoning of their wine bowl.  The murderer is suspected to be the notorious Poisoner of Ptah, who had been arrested and sent to a desert prison camp several years ago--but who, it turns out, has escaped and made his way back to Cairo to try to clear his good name.  Our chief investigator is Amerotke, who is "Chief Judge of Egypt" and also detective.  While we watch Amerotke unravel the case, we also learn a good deal about the politics of the time (with Egypt pretty much loathed by all its neighbors, who are envious of its wealth and status), as well as the personalities of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut (called here "Hatusu" and her working-class lover, Senenmut.  If these names sound slightly confusing, don't worry--you are not alone, which the author must have realized, because he very cleverly included a list of characters' names at the beginning of the book, and it is very helpful for about the first half.
 
That is a small complaint, however, as we really did enjoy this book.  It was perhaps a bit slow to start, but the way Doherty evokes the sights, sounds, and smells of ancient Egypt is remarkable.  Doherty also manages to juggle many strands of courtly intrigue with politics and the sort of "locked room" murder investigation, all while keeping the book moving at a nice clip.  We quite liked Amerotke, who is a kind-hearted family man with a nice wife and two kids, and found him warm and smart.   Perhaps we would have liked a bit deeper characterization of him, but this didn't interfere with our enjoyment of the book.  We also found the character of the poisoner to be quite effectively drawn and enigmatic.
 
The working out of the mystery is a little less satisfying than the rest of the book--though it has been properly prepared for.  We speculated that when a book is as rich a pageant as THE POISIONER OF PTAH, the resolution of the mystery is going to seem small in comparison.
 
Overall, we enjoyed the book, which we found to appeal to both the women and the men in our group, and we thought we would like to read more in the future.  To be honest, I had not heard of P.C. Doherty before, but it turns out he is a very prolific writer who uses several pseudonyms, including Paul Doherty (these books take place in medieval times).  I definitely will read more of him, as I felt the book was very absorbing, and several of our other members felt the same way. 
 



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