An Affair of Egypt
In 1939, American journalist Alex Fraser is offered the chance to become a foreign correspondent in exotic pre-war Cairo. Though the career opportunity is good, Alex has a deeper, more personal reason for uprooting himself: he knows that his mother had a lover in Egypt, his real father perhaps, and wants to uncover his own history. But when he arrives, Alex soon finds himself in a world of intrigue involving a clandestine society, the Suez Canal, and imminent war. In this world where conspiracies abound, those who seem most trustworthy are perhaps the most dangerous. Complicating matters is his budding relationship with renowned (and beautiful) photographer Catherine Molyneux, who is in Cairo recovering from her horrifying Spanish Civil War experiences.
An Affair of Egypt presents a fascinating cast of characters, the kind of people Hercule Poirot might observe whilst vacationing in Egypt, wondering at their secrets. The plot itself was not quite as captivating as the characters; it sometimes felt as though too much was crammed into this slim tome. The real dangers (kidnapping, attempted murder, actual murder) occur in the last thirty pages of the story. With a book this short, tighter editing would have helped with an occasionally dragging pace in the middle of the novel. That said, there was much to enjoy: along with creating compelling characters, King does a very nice job of depicting the atmosphere of Egypt. The sights and smells especially are vividly described. (It is best not to be hungry whilst reading about the feasts consumed!)