Happy St. Patrick’s Day?

March 17, 2014 at 10:40 pm (books, Mystery fiction, Weather)

Yes, here in the Free State, it’s déja vu all over again (if you’ll forgive the tautology):

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Ah, well what can one do except, once again, turn to one’s books:

I’m still working my leisurely way through Miklos Banffy’s magisterial trilogy:

oldbanffy4I’m also engaged in yet another happy exercise in paired reading. First, I’m reading a new book on the history of ancient Egypt. It’s called, fittingly enough, A History of Ancient Egypt. 9781250030115  The subtitle, though, is very telling: ‘From  the First Farmers to the Great Pyramid.” The first chapter, “Beside the Pale Lake,” covers the thousand years from 5,000 to 4,000 BC. This is a good thousand years before the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt and the beginning of the Archaic or Early Dynastic Period, which ultimately led to the birth of the Old Kingdom. Author John Romer follows this fascinating trajectory mainly through the momentous discoveries of various archeologists. They find lots of pots, of increasingly subtle manufacture and design, but so far the most striking, not to mention haunting, object I’ve encountered is the Merimda Head:

human mask, Merimde

It was at Marimda…within the strata of the later phases of the settlement, deposited during a two-hundred-year period following the middle of the fourth millennium BC, that archaeologists recovered the fragments of the oldest known sculpture of a human being ever to have been found in Egypt. A clay head as round as a potato, it is a well-made and surprising work. It is also the earliest known evidence of how people living in the valley of the lower Nile saw themselves.

John Romer, in A History of Ancient Egypt

Right.

the-golden-scales-by-parker-bilal  Now we jump forward a couple of millennia to meet Makana, a private investigator living in a dilapidated houseboat in teeming present day Cairo. He’s barely making ends meet when he acquires a fabulously wealthy client who engages him to search for a missing soccer star. Uh oh – trouble ahead, right? You bet!

I’ve had my eye on this series ever since it debuted (with this novel) in 2012. Then two things happened: I read a very positive review of  The Ghost Runner, the latest entry in the series. Then I discovered that The Golden Scales was available for Kindle download at $1.99. I try not to make decisions about my reading matter on such a flimsy basis, but…well, really, I could not resist! And I’m glad that I didn’t. Parker Bilal‘s style is polished, and he has a nice line in private eye irreverence:

There was a lot of gold on that hand. Makana had a frying pan hanging in the kitchen about the size of that wristwatch. It answered any nagging queries he still had about the purpose of the gorilla. If you were going to walk around with that much gold on display, you would need a big friend.

Well, there’s more – when isn’t there? – but I guess I’ll stop here. There’s just that much more shoveling to do. It’s exercise. of a sort, but not nearly as much fun as zumba.

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