Quick Review (read on for full review)
Suspenseful, unpredictable and atmospheric. This was an engaging, easy read, which kept me guessing… 4 / 5
It is Egypt in 2000 BC, where death gives meaning to life. At the foot of a cliff lies the broken, twisted body of Nofret, concubine to a Ka-priest. Young, beautiful and venomous, most agree that it was fate – she deserved to die like a snake!
Butat her father’s house on the banks of the Nile, the priest’s daughter Renisenb believes that the woman’s death was suspicious. Increasingly, she becomes convinced that the source of evil lurks within their household – and watches helplessly as the family’s passions explode in murder…
‘I, Renisenb, am an old woman, and I love life as only the old can, savouring every hour, every minute that is left to them. Of you all I have the best chance of life – because I shall be more careful than any of you.’
(From Death Comes As The End by Agatha Christie, page 200)
‘A trifle, a little, the likeness of a dream, and death comes as the end…‘
(From Death Comes As The End by Agatha Christie, page 55)
Death Comes As The End is a standalone novel, set in ancient Egypt, and I found it to be a great read. Historical fiction meets murder mystery, and although this book lacks gore and detailed descriptions of the death, there is no cosy element you find in many books of this genre. Instead you are exposed to the tense, suspenseful atmosphere that pervades this house as fear takes hold on the family. There are plenty of plot twists to keep you wondering what is going to happen next, and just when you think you might have worked it out, something happens and changes everything.
The descriptions of ancient Egypt – the people, the places, the state of the country at the time the story is set, the ordinary life of Egyptians, the religion – it was all fantastic. I found it very easy to envisage it all, and immerse myself in the story. One of the hardest parts of reading this book was to pick a single favourite quote from all the ones I had bookmarked!
The characters really made the story, and it is their interactions and motivations that ensured I never lost interest in what was happening. My favourite character was probably the quiet, dependable, sensible Hori, but I also loved Esa’s plain-speaking ways; she never shied away from telling anyone what she thought of them!
The only downside to the story was how Renisenb was portrayed. At first, she came across as a little naïve, a little childish, but throughout she is exposed to the critical thinking of others. Life seems a little more abstract to her than it does to, let’s say, Hori or Esa, or even Imhotep. But then, she has suffered a bereavement and grief could be the reason for this. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t like her as a character, I did. Nor does it mean that I didn’t find her character convincing, I did. Only that at times I found her a little frustrating as she had a habit of taking things at face value and not understanding that it was possible for things to not be as they appeared.
Loving all things ancient Egyptian as I do, I loved this book. If you’re a fan of ancient Egypt and want to read an unusual murder mystery, I recommend this book to you.