cover image Horus Killing

Horus Killing

Paul C. Doherty. Minotaur Books, $22.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-312-24263-3

A rash of murders taxes the sharp mind of Amerotke, the chief judge of Egypt at the start of the turbulent reign of Hatusu, some 3,500 years ago, when the ancient Egyptian empire was at its peak. The killings, beginning at the Hall of the Underworld, a desert maze with an evil reputation, seem intended to disrupt Hatusu's reign as possibly the first woman to become Pharaoh Queen of Egypt. Because Hatusu is both young and beautiful, many in the royal circle are jealous of her rise to power. Amerotke, aided by his loyal and lecherous servant Shufoy, must stay alive and find a killer whose favored means are poisoned wines, burning oils and crocodile-infested waters. Doherty does a fine job of splicing together rich period detail and vivid storytelling, while a subtle sense of menace permeates the text. Despite a slightly unwieldy cast suffering from too many treacherous court toadies and kohl-eyed courtesans, this second installment (after Mask of Ra) in Doherty's ancient Egypt mystery series represents a rare example of historical crime fiction that isn't overloaded with history and doesn't give suspense short shrift. (Mar.)