MEC Reviews: The Crystal’s Curse – Jane Alden

So I ended up in the Emergency Room the other day. My brain was a bit frazzled and my concentration was crap, but the story kept me interested and allowed me to pick it up and put it down based on my rising or lowering stress (and pain) level. The Crystal’s Curse definitely has a Agatha Christie/cosy feel – but when you have a murder mystery with a cast of international scallywag’s set in Egypt, its hard not to think of Death on the Nile. I’ve always had a slight fascination with ancient Egypt and archeology (and I’ve read A LOT of Christie’s books when I was younger) so I was happy to pick this one up and it felt a bit like a comfort read – something I needed at the time.

It was refreshing to read a novel with a different setting than so many that I’ve read and I enjoyed the book overall. The story starts in 70s New York where young Ariadne Morgan is referred by her former teacher/lover for a position as an assistant/secretary for archeologist Dr Cassandra Stillwell. In a rather whirlwind interview, Ari is hired and the two set off to Luxor, Egypt where Cass is intent on finding the proof of her discredited theory that Hatshepsut was more than just queen regent in the New Kingdom and that she was murdered by her stepson and her achievements as a female pharaoh were erased from history. While at the hotel in Luxor, they meet up with rival archeologists and shady characters and the resulting murder causes suspicion and further danger as Ari and Cass are prime suspects. There’s a romance – but very understated and barely any build-up – but the focus is more on the mystery (murder and resting place of Hatshepsut).

I would have loved this book to be longer – with more time and detail on all the elements from the history and archeology, to the murder and suspects and to the romance. At under 130 pages (on my Kindle), it just didn’t have the time or space to flesh out the characters or mystery elements and I was more than willing to spend a lot more time with the characters and situations.

A quick and entertaining read.

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