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Eater of Souls

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Lord Meren, Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s closest confidante, begins investigating Queen Nefertiti’s assassination, but when the mutilated bodies of seemingly random victims—a farmer, a prostitute, and a royal Hittite emissary—are discovered in Memphis, Meren’s sleuthing changes directions. Sending his son Kysen on the trail of Nefertiti’s killer, Meren searches for the Eater of Souls, a demon from the netherworld who metes out vengeance to sinners. The murders bear her signature; the victims’ throats are slashed and their hearts torn out.

Kysen’s work leads into Memphis’ underworld of organized crime, but his search goes slowly. However, father and son meet several people possibly involved in either mystery: Tutankhamun’s scheming wife; her devoted aide, Princess Tio; ambitious, bitter Prince Rahotep; belligerent Hittite general Labarnas; charismatic social climber Lord Reshep; and his hanger-on, Prince Djoser. All want greater power and influence in the young pharaoh’s court. Meren’s meddling and his own enviable position inflame them.

The investigation of Nefertiti’s death is further stymied as her former servants are found stabbed. Tutankhamun and the priests argue whether the Eater of Souls is really a demon or only a mortal. Egypt’s tense relations with the Hittites tighten when Labarnas accuses Meren of the murders. Then Meren’s daughter falls for Lord Reshep. Soon the Eater of Souls pays a visit to Meren himself.

EATER OF SOULS is highly enjoyable, though somewhat predictable. Lynda Robinson’s doctorate in anthropology adds authenticity to the setting, and the engaging characters showcase Robinson’s experience in storytelling.