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The Murder of King Tut
James Patterson and Martin Dugard
Little, Brown and Company 2009
352 pages

In The Murder of King Tut – The Plot to Kill the Child King James Patterson and Martin Dugard take on the task of solving perhaps the greatest murder in history. Generally, this historical mystery novel is well put together as an enjoyable, straightforward, quick page turner. In The Murder of King Tut recent and ancient history and politics equally fascinate while play-by-play accounts of Egyptologist Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of King Tut are exciting and real.

At only 17 years old the boy-king Tut slipped from this mortal coil, was embalmed, and placed in a golden coffin in a tomb filled with valued possessions and unimaginable riches to join his predecessors in the Egyptian world of the dead. His resting place remained undisturbed until 1925. Since then, the death of King Tut has been shrouded in a mystery that has intrigued and fascinated scientists and the masses alike including murder mystery and Alex Cross writer James Patterson.

The Murder of King Tut is a paralleled with the life of Howard Carter, the man who found the king’s tomb. Carter began as a sketch artist and despite formal credentials eventually became Chief Inspector of Antiquities and then fell into disfavor and poverty.

James Patterson and Martin Dugard alternately provide a glimpse further back in time to chronicle King Tut’s life (1341 – 1324 BC), his culture, his contemporaries, his family, and those who ruled before and after him. The mystery novel writers seem to know what happened to the boy king. They view the tragedy of young Tutankhaman’s death in the context of a complex interpersonal web of envy and betrayal, citing who had the most to gain from the Pharaoh’s demise; admittedly a logical and convincing approach.

The provide a clear perspective and interesting points to ponder. Their conclusions are however contrary to those of experts and Egyptologists armed with forensic and modern technology, most notably a CAT scan of Tut’s mummified body.

Readers can draw their own conclusions about the murder of King Tut but they will very likely enjoy the book.