The first installment in N.L. Holmes’ Hani’s Daughter Mysteries saga—an offshoot of her critically acclaimed Lord Hani series—is set in ancient Egypt (1335 BCE) during the first regnal year of King Tut-ankh-aten.
Neferet, Lord Hani’s youngest daughter and an accomplished physician, opens a medical practice in Waset—the bustling capital of Upper Egypt—with her friend and life partner Bener-ib. Both women have given up lucrative posts at the royal palace to serve the residents of a working-class neighborhood. But their practice is struggling, in large part because of the lies spread by a competing doctor who doesn’t trust women as physicians.
When a man is brought to their dispensary with a brutal abdominal stab wound and dies shortly thereafter, the women vow to uncover his killer and obtain ma’at (justice) for the patient and his family.
The murdered man turns out to be the chief florist of the Hidden One’s temple, a prestigious and powerful position. With the help of Neferet’s father Hani and the women’s headstrong adopted teenage daughter Mut-tuy, they begin to uncover a conspiracy involving corrupt priests and several high-ranking officials. As the women get closer to the truth, the body count rises.
While the murder mystery is impressively knotty, the elements that make Holmes’ previous novels so noteworthy are on display once again, including stellar character development and dynamism, brisk pacing, and meticulously researched and richly described world-building. The author excels at the subtle use of sensory descriptors to place her readers in the story: “There was a strong reek of dung in the air and the bitter smell of heated metal. A fishmonger cried loudly the virtues of his catch, and a body of laundrymen, headed for the River with their baskets on their heads, pushed past…”
Holmes has released many outstanding novels. Flowers of Evil is no exception; it’s the perfect fusion of historical fiction and mystery. In a word: unputdownable.
Also available as an ebook.