Book review: Egyptian Enigma by L.J.M. Owen

I am delighted to share my review of Egyptian Enigma by L.J.M. Owen, Book 3 of her Dr Pimms’ Intermillennial Sleuth series

Egyptian Enigma

About Egyptian Enigma

Dr Elizabeth Pimms, enthusiastic archaeologist and reluctant librarian, has returned to Egypt.

Among the treasures of the Cairo museum she spies cryptic symbols in the corner of an ancient papyrus. Curiosity leads Elizabeth and her gang of sleuths to investigate a cache of mummies hidden in the Golden Tomb.

What is the connection between the Tomb and Tausret, female Pharaoh and last ruler of Egypt’s Nineteenth Dynasty? How did the mummies end up scattered across the globe? And is Elizabeth’s investigation related to attacks on her family and friends?

Between grave robbers, modern cannibals, misinformed historians and jealous Pharaohs, can Dr Pimms solve her new archaeological mystery?

Filled with ancient murder, family secrets and really good food, Egyptian Enigma is the third adventure in the charming crime series:  Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth. Really cold cases.

 

My thoughts (reviewed for Sisters in Crime, Australia)

The third in the Dr Pimms Intermillennial Sleuth cosy mystery series, Egyptian Enigma takes

the reader deep into the exotic and ancient realm of the Pharaohs of Egypt. Engaging

opening scenes of the prologue dive straight into the action of the story as Elizabeth Pimms

visits a tomb in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo and catches a mysterious

woman in her hotel room stealing her journal.

The narrative races back 4,000 years to Khemet and the reign of Pharaoh Seti II as his wife,

Tausret prepares for her day. When her husband is assassinated, she takes control to

become the last in her dynasty to rule Egypt and she is at risk at every turn. This parallel

narrative is well-conceived and convincing, the reader provided an at once educative and

fascinating insight into an ancient civilisation.

Meanwhile, back home in Canberra, the intrepid and wilful Dr Pimms and her team set

about solving an archaeological mystery using modern techniques to see re-create a

mummy. How Dr Pimms’ investigations and Tausret are connected is the key narrative

driver.

The story is helped along by good characterisation of both the protagonist and minor

characters, and a carefully devised and well-paced plot with numerous twists and turns. The

reader is soon caught up in the blended family life of Dr Pimms and her professional life as

both librarian and academic, with all of the ups and downs, arguments and tensions that

come with such complexity.

The pace of the narrative is slowed considerably by both the archaeological exposition and

descriptions of sumptuous dining. Yet these descriptive scenes help to provide Egyptian

Enigma with a strong, cosy-mystery vibe. Themes of child brides, the subjugation of women

and the deleting of women’s stories from the historical record are foregrounded to the

delight of feminist readers.

The ending is abrupt and leaves many questions unanswered, leaving the reader waiting

impatiently for Book Four. Overall, Egyptian Enigma will satisfy cosy mystery fans who enjoy

being cosseted in a Miss Marple-style story world, L.J.M. Owen’s knowledge of archaeology

coming into its own as ever it does in the Dr Pimms’ series.

You can find Egyptian Enigma on Amazon

Find L.J.M. Owen at her website https://www.ljmowen.com/

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#AWW challenge completed!

I signed up late to the 2017 Australian Women Writer’s challenge. Despite those lost months, I committed to reviewing at least six books by Australian women authors, which is known as the ‘Franklin’ challenge. I ended up reviewing seven titles and I would have written more had I not found myself unexpectedly moving house!

What a delightful experience the #AWW has been! I’ve ventured into genres I wouldn’t normally read. I’ve found many absolute gems along the way.

I began with Kathryn Gossow’s Cassandra, an absolutely charming literary coming of age story. “Cassandra is laced with evocative descriptions of rural Queensland. Gossow’s characterisations are convincing and her pacing measured. Early suspense shades into a textured exploration of clairvoyance, dreams, trance states and the predictive powers of Tarot, as Cassie tries to get a handle on her own inner powers; her friend, the ever doubtful Athena, egging her on.”

From there I ventured into crime with Sandi Wallace. I ended up reviewing two titles by this author, Tell Me Why, and Dead Again .  “With wit and a sharp eye for the essentials, Wallace has built a story world that feels real. A page turner with much to savour, Dead Again is a moving and highly engaging read.”

For literary fiction, I turned to Heather Rose’s The Museum of Modern Love “Rose is a masterful writer, her depictions of incidental characters sharply observant, yet her prose is always gentle, haunting. The Museum of Modern Love is a meditation, on art and creativity to a large extent, but above that on pain, physical and emotional pain, the anguish of loss and grief.”

The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose, winner of the 2017 Stella Prize. Read more of my reviews at https://isobelblackthorn.com/my-book-reviews/

I went back to crime with L.J. M. Owen’s Mayan Mendacity  my review appearing on the Sisters in Crime Australasia’s website. “In all, I found Mayan Mendacity difficult to put down. Owen has provided her readers with an entertaining story that also informs, without allowing exposition to put a brake on the narrative. Pulling off a story laden with this much technical detail and maintaining a fast pace is quite a feat.”

I then took a detour into historical fiction, unable to pass up the opportunity to review Elisabeth Storr’s  Call To Juno an absolute feast of a read. “This is a story for those who enjoy their historical fiction rich with fine and accurate detail. Call to Juno is intensely visual, bringing ancient Rome to life, composed by an author who clearly knows her subject.”

Finally, I was treated to Elizabeth Jane Corbett’s The Tides Between “The Tides Between pulls the reader in two directions, the desire to continue turning the pages at odds with an equally a strong wish to pause and reflect on its various intricacies, its depth. The only difficulty faced in reviewing a book of this quality is putting it down long enough to scribe reflections. A work I would describe as literary historical fiction, The Tides Between, is a captivating and immersive read.

Mayan Mendacity by L.J.M. Owen

Dr Elizabeth Pimms has a new puzzle.

What is the story behind the tiny skeletons discovered on a Guatemalan island? And how do they relate to an ancient Mayan queen?

The bones, along with other remains, are a gift for Elizabeth. But soon the giver reveals his true nature. An enraged colleague then questions Elizabeth’s family history. Elizabeth seeks DNA evidence to put all skeletons to rest.

A pregnant enemy, a crystal skull, a New York foodie, and an intruder in Elizabeth’s phrenic library variously aid or interrupt Elizabeth’s attempts to solve mysteries both ancient and personal.

 

 

 

My Review (written for Sisters in Crime)

Set in Canberra, and in the Mayan empire in what is now Guatemala, Mayan Mendacity is the second in L.J.M. Owen’s Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth series. It is a challenge setting up the next book in a series and Owen has done so with finesse. The narration is light, buoyant, playful at times, yet ever observant, the result, a most satisfying read.

The main plot is driven by protagonist Dr Elizabeth Pimm’s new volunteer project, given her by the exacting Dr Marsh. She must assess an archeological find, the remains of a cesnote in Guatemala, meeting a series of crushing deadlines. Elizabeth’s pursuit of answers to the mysteries of the find is continuously thwarted as a number of complications beset her. Obstacles and challenges come from all directions, enough to make the weak among us buckle, but not Dr Pimms.

Owen has created a convincingly flawed and utterly lovable protagonist. She’s determined, dedicated, thorough and loyal. She sallies forth with gung ho exuberance, never down for long, no matter what befalls her. Elizabeth’s attitude is probably best summed up when she confronts another disaster and asks herself, ‘What fresh new hell was this?’

Dr Pimms is supported by a cast of characters, all rounded out and believable. The reader is introduced to each in turn as the story unfolds and a secondary plot emerges, one that is deeply personal. Indeed, it is Dr Pimms’ own history that thwarts her investigation, yet ultimately leads her to mature and open her heart.

The story is thoroughly researched; the author clearly knows her themes and her setting. Technical details are provided in an engaging, easy to follow manner. This is especially evident when Owen opens a window on the fascinating world of the Mayan empire, making use of a parallel narrative to take the reader back to the time of Dr Pimms’ find.

Elizabeth’s phrenic library is an interesting addition to the narrative, a fascinating invention, one that creates a curious occult dimension to Owen’s series. This phrenic library is a personal and mundane version of the Akashic records, a metaphysical compendium of all that has ever occurred in human history, stored on the inner planes, according to Theosophical belief. As a device, Elizabeth’s inner library works well, granting her plausible, if esoteric, access to knowledge she would otherwise be hard pressed to gain.

In all, I found Mayan Mendacity difficult to put down. Owen has provided her readers with an entertaining story that also informs, without allowing exposition to put a brake on the narrative. Pulling off a story laden with this much technical detail and maintaining a fast pace is quite a feat.

You can buy a copy of this book HERE

Visit the author L.J.M. Owen
With thanks to Sisters in Crime for my review copy