In this, one of several novels by Mann, The Affinity Bridge and the Immorality Engine being some of the best, both have different problems to investigate, while Maurice is busy on occult business, Veronica has to discover why women are disappearing from a magician's theatre show... and not coming back. Maurice attends the unveiling of the mummy of a pharaoh but he has reservations about who he actually was, thinking that he might really be a priest rather than royalty due to the artefacts the excavators found in the tomb. More baffling are the red hieroglyphics on the sarcophagus and the grotesque way he had been embalmed - for all to see, it looks like he has been buried alive.
Newbury has been interested in ancient Egypt and has a knowledge known to others and while he is hot on the trail of what happened to the victim of the mummy's curse; Hobbes is bemused by The Mysterious Alfonso's disappearing assistants. One night watching the on stage performance is all that is needed to show both Newbury and Hobbes that there is no funny business at work. Both investigators have their own personal problems too, Newbury with his opium addiction and Hobbes with her private life revolving around her ill sister. Newbury, like Sherlock Holmes has a brush with drugs, believing the influence of opium and laudanum can enable him to think clearer when trying to solve a case, little realising that he's become addicted to its Eastern charms. Newbury thinks it will help him in particular with the cases of the mummy and Lord Winthrop where he knows that a certain ritual is behind the truth of why the mummy was buried this way. There could be a mystery surrounding the other men who were in the expedition with Lord Winthrop and whatever else they found could have been a catalyst to his murder.
Most of the novel centres around Newbury's case as it is so intriguing and mysterious, yet Hobbes can't quite fathom what had happened to the assistants from The Mysterious Alfonso's magic routine. Both Newbury and Hobbes have some idea of who the criminal might be, but no clearer as to pinpointing the culprit. There are several possibilities, and Mann, as usual keeps interesting the reader with more clues for Newbury to the murders in London after the mysterious mummy has been showcased to certain high members of society. The queen has her own agenda for wanting Newbury to find the murderer, and how he can be captured, but there is the need to get him before he does anything else, as the killer could be more than human.
For many books now, this being the third in the series, I have reviewed and found that Newbury and Hobbes are always put in less than savoury circumstances, usually with some hint of the supernatural, here with a mummy and all the while trying to keep a hold on their own demons of opium and trying to look after a sister. Mann is at the very peak of his creativity and style with a Victorian London setting full of mystery and polluted fog, its people ranging from the dangerous to the innocent, but never tiresome.
Review by Sandra Scholes
8.5/10 from 1 reviews
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