Friday, December 09, 2011

The Murder of King Tut - My Review

James Patterson is seldom associated with anything other than thrillers, and rip roaring fiction, which keeps us awake late into the night, bleary eyed. So when a book titled The Murder of King Tut bears his name, it is bound to be mistook for another word play on a fictitious thriller.
But surprise! This one is for real, and is really the murder story of King Tutankhamen, who lived and ruled Egypt about 3300 years ago!
Firstly, the idea itself is quite fantastic. If a mainstream Archaeologist or History buff wrote this story, it would have been relegated to the  libraries. For James Patterson to put aside the next Alex Cross manuscript and dive into history is fabulous by itself. And you really don't know whether the book is Fiction or real History, or a Biography - Patterson mixes all his writing styles on this one. 
The book starts with a personal introduction by James Patterson, and several times in the course of the book, he brings the narrative back to first person, from his personal point of view. We see him talk about his publisher, his co-author on the book - Martin Dugard, and about the pending manuscripts on his writing desk. We also get a rare peek into the workday of this prolific word-smith.
The Murder of King Tut, is not really a fictitious story. The author would have taken a few liberties while putting together his own version of history - especially as the whole story has been picked up from staid objects like fragments of pottery and carvings on broken tomb walls, but in general, it is a well-researched report on a case that has gone cold thousands of years ago! While historians largely believe that King Tut died due to an injury suffered on a cart accident, there is a group of them who believe the child-Pharaoh was murdered, and Patterson starts there. The amount of research the authors did for the book is spectacular, and Patterson himself says so in the prologue. 
The Murder of King Tut is also the story of well-known Egyptologist Howard Carter, whose team actually found the tomb while digging through the Valley of the Kings. His story is woven with King Tut's, interspersed by Patterson's present time musings, and in all, make for great reading!
If you have any interest at all in History, you will lap up the story, as it takes us right into the twists and turns of an ancient epic. Even if you don't enjoy Egyptology (in spite of all the masala involved in their lives!), The Murder of King Tut remains a first class murder mystery - albeit with a spin. Seldom do we get a mainstream writer like James Patterson writing a story simultaneously in three times - 1500-1300 BC, the late 19th Century, and present day - all in one book!
Read it :) Not something that will keep you awake all night, but will help you appreciate the writer better. I do now.

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