Saturday, September 30, 2023

Review: Heart of the NIle by Will Thomas

by Will Thomas
Release Date: April 11, 2023
2023 Minotaur Books
Kindle Edition; 320 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250864901
Audiobook: B0B64F9L7M
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.75 / 5 Stars

London, 1893 - deadly doings are afoot in the British Museum and private enquiry agents Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn must unravel a mystery involving a mummy, a giant ruby and a murder, in Will Thomas's Heart of the Nile .

In 1893, a volunteer at the British Museum makes a startling discovery. When examining a mummy in the museum's collection, he discovers there is a giant ruby in the shape of a heart buried in the chest of the mummy. Even more startling, the mummy might well be Cleopatra. The following morning, the volunteer is found floating in the Thames and the ruby has gone missing. Hired by the victim’s wife to learn the truth behind his death, Barker and Llewelyn find themselves in the crosshairs - now they must avoid a violent street gang, a ruthless collector, and the British Museum itself in order to find the killer and safeguard the gem.
My Thoughts
Heart of the Nile continues the adventures of Barker & Llewelyn, and while I wasn't crazy about the last book in the series, this one picked up what was magical in this series and brought it back to life. What follows is a fun trek through London as the two chase down a killer, with interesting archaeological tidbits from this time period thrown in to spice up the adventure. 

Having read all the previous books in this series, I am quite familiar with the characters so I don't really feel as if anything new was added in this book or any of the characters really developed. What I did notice, and this is something that has bothered for several books now, is the lack of female characters, and when we do come across them, they are poorly developed or are usually in hysterics.  I think we have learned as much as can about our two main characters, and would love to see more of Barker's wife involved in the stories, or perhaps some mysteries where the female villains have some depth and character to them, something I feel Anne Perry does well in her books.  I think it is easy to become too comfortable with your characters and forget how important the secondary characters are in one's stories. And there has to be a way of showing Llewelyn's strength of character other than through these side wisecracks of his as I feel they are getting silly at times and make him seem dismissive.
The plot itself was interesting and I enjoyed the archaeological element that was included.  The British did have a fascination with anything relating to Egypt during this time period so I was quite happy to see a book focusing on this obsession and the stakes that were involved with the museums to keep the populace happy and interested.  The story moved rather quickly, but I did feel like there were too many moving parts for such a short book and this definitely had an effect on the ending as it felt rushed, as if the author realized they still had one more thread to complete and tidy up.  
Heart of the Nile was an enjoyable read, but the pacing was off and there were a lot of threads to follow for such a short book, possibly too many, something that affected the overall ending. Barker and Llewelyn do make a good team and I did enjoy their banter and their camaraderie, but the lack of diversity is growing to be a problem.  Overall, I did find this fund to read, and I will definitely be continuing this series. While the backstories of the main characters will shed some light on why they do certain things and their relationship, I don't think it is necessary to start with the first book to enjoy this series.