For three centuries, the House of Ptolemy has governed the Kingdom of Egypt. Cleopatra – seventh of her name – rules from Alexandria, that beacon of commerce and learning that stands between the burning sands of the desert and the dark waters of the Middle Sea.
But her realm is beset by ethnic rivalries, aristocratic feuds and courtly intrigues. Not only that, she must contend with the insatiable appetite of Julius Caesar who needs Egyptian grain and Egyptian gold to further his ambitions. The world is watching the young Queen, waiting for a misstep...
And now her most trusted servant – her Eye – has been murdered and a vast shipment of newly minted coin stolen. Cleopatra cannot afford for the coins to go unrecovered or the murderers unpunished, so she asks childhood friend, Tetisheri Nebenteru, to retrace the dead Eye’s footsteps.
Tetisheri will find herself plunged into the shadowy heart of Alexandria. As she sifts her way through a tangle of lies and deceit, she will discover that nothing can be taken at face value, that she can’t trust anyone – perhaps even the Queen herself.
Edgar winner Stabenow (the Kate Shugak series) ventures into historical crime fiction in this uneven series launch set in ancient Egypt. Tetisheri (known as Sheri) is a childhood friend of Cleopatra Philopater Thea Noetera, "the incarnation on Earth of the goddess Isis, and absolute ruler of Alexandria and Upper and Lower Egypt," who is currently heavily pregnant with the child of Julius Caesar. Cleopatra (whom Sheri calls Pati) is desperate: a shipment of gold coins, which were meant to shore up the Egyptian economy, has been stolen, and Cleopatra's secret agent, known as the Eye, has been murdered. "Find the coin, find the thieves, and find the killer and bring all to me," the queen implores her friend. "I am surrounded by spies set in place by the Romans, by the nobles, by my brother, all of whom are watching and waiting for me to make that one slip." Pirates, palace intrigue, an abusive husband, a budding romance, and shadowy walks down Alexandria's mean streets fill out this slice of research-laden ancient history, whose details fail to make the reader feel what it's like to live in that time and place. Stabenow tries too hard to make ancient Egypt sound contemporarily now.