by Layton Green
First Ward 2011 e-book edition
Sometimes a book with an iconic setting will come along at a point when that particular region is experiencing some sort of turmoil, and in a way it kind of dates the book. In one sense, Layton Green's latest novel, The Egyptian, suffers from the uproar earlier this year in Egypt, which saw it's former ruler Mubarek thrown out of office and arrested for crimes against humanity. Fortunately, The Egyptian, doesn't focus on the politics of the region, but instead focuses intently on the cultural and historical aspects of Egypt, so political strife in the real world doesn't really hinder the storyline. And, frankly, it doesn't look like the media is paying much attention to Egypt anymore, so what does it matter?
The Egyptian is a follow-up novel to Layton's debut novel, The Summoner (click here to read my review), featuring special forces agent Dominic Grey. It's a sequel of sorts, but the storyline hear doesn't require you to really have any familiarity with the events that occurred in The Summoner. Still set in Africa, The Egyptian concerns itself with a whole new threat. A biological research company has had some extremely secret and extremely innovative technology stolen from them, and rather that contact the authorities, they have hired Dominic Grey. But the head of the company is very secretive about the nature of what's been stolen, initially saying only that it was a vial of liquid, and when Grey finds out what it is he finds himself drawn once more into a dangerous world of the supernatural--a quest for the fountain of youth.
The book also introduces a new character named Jax, a mercenary who has his own agenda with relation to the acquisition of the technology. There was an good dictodomy between Grey and Jax, as each had very different motives and ethical boundaries around their conduct. I wouldn't be surprised to see these two character cross paths again, and I think it has the potential to liven up the storyline, as it did here. I also found the introduction of a journalist named Victoria to be a welcome addition to the cast in this story, and found her to be a much livelier and cheerable character than Grey's love interest in the first novel, Rya.
That said, with all the chills and spills, I wasn't as engrossed in this novel as I was with The Summoner, which kind of surprised me because the premise for The Egyptian seemed like something far more thrilling in nature. The main point of excitement for me came in the form of a large mummy stalking and attacking certain characters throughout the book. Now "mummy" might be how it's seen by some, but it's important to remember that the supernatural is only alluded to and looked at with a very scientific approach, so if you think this mummy is a genuine mummy like from the Brandon Fraser movies, you've got another thing coming. This isn't that kind of series.
It's a good book, and an acceptable follow up to the previous book, with plenty of inner conflict and character development for the Dominic Grey character. And that's always a nice aspect to these globe-trotting thrillers, since the stereotype is that a scant few offer any character development at all in favor of the technical aspects of the story. If you enjoyed The Summer, you'll at least like this book, I figure. I just didn't love it.