Poisoned Pen, Jun 2004, 24.95, 186 pp.
In 1909 Egypt the Mamur Zapt, Gareth Owen, joins several VIPs on a shoot that makes him feel like a duck out of water as most of the effendi attending are financiers or royals. However, during the gala, someone shoots the Russian Tvardovsky. As expected by his position, Owen begins to investigate to determine whether the death was an accident or a homicide with his only clue being that the foreign victim discussed crocodiles in Egypt.
Prince Fuad interferes with the Mamur Zapt inquiries trying to insure that an accident is reported if he cannot stop the investigation. However, Gareth continues to look into the matter with the diligence he always brings to his job though he worries about the repercussions from the royals, especially how Fuad will react. Fuad increases the pressure for Owen to conduct a sham investigation, but he refuses.
The Mamur Zapt series consistently provide some of the best early twentieth century police procedural tales on the market. The latest entry, DEATH OF AN EFFENDI, is a fabulous tale that as usual provides an intriguing glimpse at Egypt in 1909 where foreigners heavily influence what happens to the country. The investigation is top of the line as Gareth struggles with Prince Fuad's reluctance and with potential witnesses fearful of alienating foreigners and or the Mamur Zapt. Fans of historical mysteries will appreciate this tale that brings to life a bygone era whose impact remains strong almost a century later.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner