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Flesh of the God: A Mystery of Ancient Egypt    by Lauren Haney order for
Flesh of the God
by Lauren Haney
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2003
* * *   Reviewed by Nina de Angeli

For readers wanting an armchair visit to a place long ago and far away, Flesh of the God opens a portal into the Egypt of Queen Hatshepsut, 15th century BC, more than a millennium before Cleopatra. The protagonist, Lieutenant Bak, is a garrison police officer on the southern frontier.

Although the most recently published title, Flesh of the God was actually first in Haney's series - originally published in Germany, and now available in English. Young Bak has just arrived at the desolate outpost of Buhen, near the second cataract of the Nile. He has been exiled from the capital and demoted from his previous position leading charioteers in the royal army. Expecting a long boring exile, Bak faces a murderous stalker in his first week on the job, when his commanding officer is killed and the commander's seductive wife is found
earby, covered in blood. Aided by his troop of Medjay (Nubian) police, Bak must learn fast and use both wit and strength when his own life is endangered and his men are attacked.

Haney's portrait of life in ancient Egypt focuses not on Pharaoh's court but on working people of the frontier: soldiers, farmers, traders, and the bureaucracy of a vast empire. Bak himself strikes me as a regular guy, a hard-working law enforcement officer quite understandable to modern readers. The book's format is police procedural, with plenty of action against both human foes and the harsh natural forces of blazing sun and desert sand.

For fans of Lauren Haney's finely researched series, Flesh of the God is a treat, explaining many references that appear in later books. We read of Bak's exile in disgrace after displeasing Queen Hatshepsut, and his first encounters with such familiar characters as Nofery, venerable mistress of the most notorious bawdy house in town. Along with a map, a helpful character list includes not only humans but also the principal deities of Egyptian religion, an ever-present theme in daily life.

Note: Haney is one of the few authors in this field commended for accuracy by KMT, a major Egyptology magazine.

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