With his Four Ways to Pharaoh Khufu, Alexander Marmer delivers a fast-paced suspense novel centered on the theft of an Egyptian artifact inscribed with hieroglyphs pointing to the secret location of the burial treasures of Pharaoh Khufu.
The main thread of the story begins when Michael Doyle, a U.S. veteran, is touring the Great Pyramid of Giza. In the deserted Grand Gallery, he comes across a dying man, Günther Schulze, who gives him his notebook and a business card, and mysteriously tells Michael to “Find four ways.”
After Günther’s death, Michael is questioned by the police, who tell him that they suspect Günther stole the precious artifact. After the business card leads Michael to Schulze’s daughter, Anna, the two soon undertake a quest to find the artifact and prove Günther’s innocence. What they don’t know is that the artifact actually belongs to the Egyptian Medjay tribe, which has been bound throughout history to protect it.
Marmer packs his novel with information, providing particulars on everything from the history of a Russian railway terminal to the definition of a software bug. Such passages lend layers and texture to the story and may delight readers who seek a little knowledge with their escapism. Marmer, however, tends to go overboard, often sabotaging the narrative’s speed with superfluous details. For instance, just as one evildoer threatens to shoot another, Marmer interrupts the action with information on the Helwan 9mm Parabellum pistol. The novel is also marred by typos, malapropisms and an inconsistent use of the past and past perfect tense.
Nonetheless, there is much to appreciate here. Marmer studs his story with some wonderful vignettes, such as the poison maker who lives in a shack constructed over two mausoleums. The old man uses tombs in the main room “as makeshift tables,” and stretches a clothesline between the tombs for his laundry.
Similar moments create an entertaining read overall—one that should please many suspense fans.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.