Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Egyptologist

by Arthur Phillips

How does an Australian detective connect a missing Australian soldier with a British Egyptologist who lives in Boston? Through a series of letters written by Ferrell (the detective) and journal entries written by Trilipush (the Egyptologist), the story slowly but surely weaves itself together. And the ending! It was kind of expected, but not in the way that I thought. I will not tell you, you need to read it for yourself! But it was the type of ending that makes me want to read it again, now that I know what I know...

The two main characters side-by-side showed many similarities. Both wanted to achieve immortality: Trilipush in making a great Egyptian find, and Ferrell in turning this old case of his into a book or a movie. They both believed what they wanted to believe despite not having anything factual to support their claims. And, they both went to great lengths to prove their unfounded beliefs.

Seeing the other characters, namely Margaret and CCF, through Trilipush's and Ferrell's eyes also sheds light onto their personalities. Ferrell, being a detective, tends to be more pragmatic and realistic, while Trilipush leans more toward what he wants to see instead of what is there. It's hard to establish the true characteristics of Margaret and CCF when they are shown to the reader in two different lights. Margaret does send a few letters to Trilipush while he's in Egypt, but the letters mostly show that she's not even sure of who she is, either.

Trilipush's excursions to the desert happen alongside the great discovery of King Tut by Howard Carter. This, I think, is a great aspect of the story; it shows that Trilipush has enormous shoes to fill and he does get jealous. When he first meets him, Trilipush finds Carter quite amiable, but as more and more comes out of Tut's tomb, Trilipush derides Carter and thinks poorly of Carter's excavation process.

Now to talk about the ending without revealing too much...The entire story is put together in a way that is humorous and entertaining with bits of mystery thrown in to keep the reader guessing. Reading along, I did pick up on things here and there that, if I were animated, a big question mark would appear above my head. All those question marks were confirmed at the end, and in a much bigger way than I had imagined. A great ending, all loose ends tied, and the reader is left with quite the picture in her head. Now, what happened here is the true meaning of a twist.

If you're not a fan of Egypt, I don't really recommend this book. Most of it is spent talking about Egyptology (go figure, considering the title..) and archaeology, so it would probably be mostly boring to you. But if you can stand Egyptian history and enjoy a good mystery, this is an excellent read.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds really interesting, Katie. Glad it didn't turn out to be a flop. : )