Secrets of the Nile (Lady Emily Mysteries, 16)

Written by Tasha Alexander
Review by Judith Starkston

Secrets of the Nile, the 16th book in the Lady Emily Mysteries series, takes Emily and husband, Colin Hargreaves, on a cruise up the Nile to visit Luxor in 1904. There, they stay with Lord Bertram Deeley, a collector of antiquities who, for hidden reasons, has an uneasy relationship with the local archaeologists. Colin’s mother accompanies them on this trip, introducing a source of tension, since the formidable Mrs. Hargreaves, in her youth, turned down Deeley’s marriage offer.

On the first night in Luxor, at the end of a sumptuous meal with lots of guests, Deeley collapses. Colin, a trained agent of the Crown, smells cyanide poison. The Egyptian police immediately accuse one of the servants, but Emily and Colin know that’s too simple an answer. Unfortunately, their investigation uncovers a long list of people with motives for the murder, including Colin’s mother.

Alexander has created another twisty plot with plenty of surprises and familial complications for Emily. This “homage to Agatha Christie” will please both ongoing fans and new readers. Alexander’s portrayal of Lady Emily’s chafing at the strictures placed on women adds a witty undertone to the narrative voice. For example, when the self-righteous Lady Wilona lectures Emily about the proper “method by which society operates,” including denying women the vote and ignoring the poor, Emily reacts with this thought, “Trying to enlighten her would be futile and gripping her shoulders to shake her until her teeth rattled impolite. I steeled myself…”

Alexander’s latest offers a delightful trip to a troubled Egypt during British colonial rule and a whodunnit that’ll keep you turning pages.