I have to admit, I wasn’t familiar with Tutankhamum. Like everyone else across the planet, I knew the name King Tut and that he was a boy pharaoh but because of my lack of interest in Egyptian history, nothing more.
In the same token, I had absolutely no idea who Egyptologist Howard Carter was but James Patterson blended these two historic figures (rightfully so) in his book “The Murder of King Tut,” which was released late 2009.
The book is broken into three parts (excluding the ‘Prologue’ and ‘Epilogue’) expertly crafted to show the progression of the lives of both characters. For Carter, Part One details the beginnings of his love of Egyptian history, from a boy who was wandering in the library of Lord Amherst to his earliest excavations with Percy Newberry. As for Tut, readers aren’t officially introduced to him until the end of Part One, after readers are given his roots.
Patterson gives readers in Part Two the parallel rise — and fall — of both Carter and Tut, with Carter’s notoriety as an Egyptologist, his subsequent failure to homelessness to him finding his way back to excavating the Valley of the Kings and Tut’s growth as a teenager and ruler of Egypt to his death.
The book climaxes in Part Three with Carter becoming renowned for discovering Tut’s tomb and the aftermath of Tut’s death within his kingdom.
The subhead to Patterson’s “The Murder of King Tut” includes the words a nonfiction thriller. This is suppose to notify readers that the story that lies within its pages is not make believe (besides the great creative way that the conversations were “constructed”) but real. However, the subhead should read instead: Inspired by real people.
Although “The Murder of King Tut” is written superbly, I personally can’t read it in any other way than like I read Alex Cross’ novels — as a work of fiction (at least Tut’s portion of the book). The book is theory based and Patterson makes the claim (in the ‘Author’s Note’) that his theory to Tut’s murder came about after extensive research by himself and co-author Martin Dugard. However, Patterson’s major mistake is that he doesn’t cite his research (except in passing), where he found his information and the validity of it.
In the end, that makes me question his theory. And it makes the book, to me, another creative thriller from one of the masters of the genre.
“The Murder of King Tut” is very entertaining. I suggest for those of you interested in Tutankhamum, research on your own and come up with your own theories and bypass Patterson’s altogether.