A Cruel Deceit

Written by Lauren Haney
Review by Suzanne Crane

A Cruel Deceit is the sixth installment of Lauren Haney’s excellent mystery series of ancient Egypt. Set during the reign of the female Pharaoh, Hatshepsut (18th Dynasty), in this volume Lt. Bak finds himself the prime investigator of a series of murders occurring during the very holy, and busy, Feast of Opet. Because of the similarity of the killings, the murder of a Hittite horse dealer seems to be related to the deaths of an auditor and priest inside the sacred precincts of the temple. Slowly the information that Lt. Bak gleans leads him towards dangerous grounds, as signs point to an old scandal involving treason and espionage in the household of the present Governor of Tjeny, Pentu, when he had been envoy in the lands of Hatti. With the discovery of the smuggling of sacred temple items, it seems old secrets and new ambitions have combined with deadly results.

Ms. Haney’s writing is clear, descriptive, and lively and gives the reader an excellent feel for the Egyptian culture. The different beliefs and interactions between the social hierarchies of ancient times truly come to life in a most pleasing way. A Cruel Deceit is most aptly titled, as justice is served, but with somewhat sorrowful consequences.