Nefertiti: The Book of the Dead
is Detective Rai Rahotep selected to investigate and solve the
mystery of Queen Nefertiti's disappearance? Rahotep has no
experience with high-profile cases nor does he have a background
working with royalty. Leaving on his journey toward the newly-built
capital city, Akhetaten, Rahotep floats down the Nile River toward
his mysterious assignment. From out of nowhere, an arrow shoots
toward him, a harbinger of danger to come. Will he be able to trust
anyone on his quest?
It would fall to Rahotep alone to discover why, how and to where
Queen Nefertiti, the Perfect One, disappeared. He must also deliver
the accused culprit to his Royal Highness, King Akhenaten. Looking
for motives, we immediately see that several stand out quite
clearly, not the least of which is the fact that the king has
greatly changed the religion that must be worshipped in the new
capital city. Additionally, he has untold fortunes and
extravagances. This power and wealth separate him from the people
he rules, as well as those who serve under him.
Let's examine the characters for a moment. First and foremost, we
have the Royal Family, as well as those who serve them, and our
protagonist, Rai Rahotep, a father, policeman and criminologist.
Put in the bizarre circumstance of finding, dead or alive, Queen
Nefertiti, who has been missing from the royal palace for a week,
he rises to the challenge and stands his ground with King Akhenaten
and his palace lackeys. Important players in this novel are also
the policemen of the local Medjay, whose agendas differ pointedly
from those of Rahotep.
If Rahotep is not successful in locating the Queen and producing
her captor, the consequences could be tragic for him and his
family. Time is critical, as there is an upcoming festival to
celebrate the new capital city and political regime of Queen
Nefertiti and King Akhenaten. Her daughter has been filling in as
the King's companion in public during the Queen's absence, and the
people are beginning to take notice. Everything in Egypt depends on
the success of the new capital city, and the Queen must be present
at this ceremony.
Although NEFERTITI is a mystery, it is chock full of interesting
history, ancient practices, religion and politics. This easily
could be a cumbersome, overwritten book, but Nick Drake has an ease
of style that causes the subject matter to be understood easily and
pleasantly. There is sufficient attention to detail without being
too heavy-handed, and Drake forms a smart, crisply written
storyline woven within. This is a finely crafted first novel, for
which the author should be congratulated.
Reviewed by Marge Fletcher on January 12, 2011