The Snake-Catcher's Daughter

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Overview

Someone is running a campaign to discredit Cairo's senior police officials. Is Garvin, the Commandant, playing power games, or is he trying to get to the bottom of the allegations of corruption? What about Garvin's senior deputy, McPhee, a man who might finally be going round the bend? And what of the Mamur Zapt himself? He may be the British head of the city's Secret Police, but is he above suspicion? After all, he does have an Egyptian mistress, placing him not only in the uncomfortable position of possible ...

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Overview

Someone is running a campaign to discredit Cairo's senior police officials. Is Garvin, the Commandant, playing power games, or is he trying to get to the bottom of the allegations of corruption? What about Garvin's senior deputy, McPhee, a man who might finally be going round the bend? And what of the Mamur Zapt himself? He may be the British head of the city's Secret Police, but is he above suspicion? After all, he does have an Egyptian mistress, placing him not only in the uncomfortable position of possible divided loyalties, but bringing him under her own stern scrutiny.

Owen's attempts to get answers and avoid political (and personal) embarrassment take him into uncharted territory, the world of Cairo's female rites. And more terrifyingly, into one of Egypt's traditional crafts. Snake catching. How do you milk a cobra? Do snakes have ears? Can they be tamed? Can a mere woman fill the traditional role of snake catcher without the undying opposition of the Rifa'i—and without loosing the plague of Egypt?

The Snake Catcher's Daughter is the eighth in the award-winning Mamur Zapt series highly praised for its elegance, wry wit, telling period detail, and political astuteness.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Pearce, Michael. The Snake Catcher's Daughter. Apr. 2003 202p. Poisoned Pen, $24.95 (1-59058-051-6).
Gareth Owens, Cairo's Intrepid Mamur Zapt (head of the secret police), is back in another seriocomic adventure that is both witty and engrossing. After finding a naked woman in his bed, and after a diamond necklace mysteriously appears in his girlfriend's boudoir, Owen decides someone is trying to bribe him. Then the local newspaper prints a stinging indictment not only of Owen but also of Garvin, commandant of the Cairo police, and his assistant, McPhee.

In the course of his investigation, Owen becomes involved in a women's purification ritual, meets a rare female snake catcher, and incurs the wrath of his girlfriend. As usual, though, Owen is at all times the epitome of unflappability, and his calm, sensible, highly intuitive approach eventually leads him to the culprit. Recommend this droll and amusing novel to fans of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series (Pearce is Peters'equal to evoking bygone Cairo) or to anyone who enjoys the comic mystery.
—Booklist

Publishers Weekly
British author Pearce again masterfully blends period detail and a compelling plot in his eighth mystery, set in Colonial Egypt, to feature Captain Gareth Owen, the head of Cairo's secret police (aka the Mamur Zapt). When the deputy commandant of police disappears, Owen discovers that the man secretly attended a mysterious women-only exorcism rite known as a Zzarr. The reopening of an old case of bribery involving Owen's predecessor and the then-commandant of the Cairo police casts a shadow on the reputation of the current commandant, who unmasked an extortion racket that may never have existed. Further complicating matters are the various attempts to entice Owen himself to accept graft, which suggest that there may be a concerted campaign to oust the highest-ranking British police officials, who only manage to maintain control by maintaining the appearance of power in the face of local opposition and nascent Egyptian nationalism. Refreshingly, Pearce weaves an engaging tale based on corruption and intrigue, not violence. A captivating character, Owen balances his ethics with keen political savvy and great sensitivity to the native population. As in The Camel of Destruction (2002), there's little genuine suspense about the identity of the figure behind the schemes, but this deficiency doesn't detract from the pleasure of a well-crafted historical. (Mar. 20) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590581148
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2003
  • Series: Mamur Zapt Mysteries Series , #8
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 254
  • Sales rank: 744,408
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Pearce was raised in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. He trained as a Russian interpreter but later moved to an academic career, first as a lecturer in English and the History of Ideas and then as an administrator. He now lives in South West London and is best known as the author of the award winning Mamur Zapt books.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A winner

    When Deputy Commandant McPhee fails to show up for work everyone becomes concerned because that is so out of character. Commandant Garvin assigns Owen Gareth, the Mamur Zapt, to make inquiries over the latter¿s objection that this is not a political matter, as those are the only ones he, as the local head of the British secret police, should investigate...................... Seeking McPhee¿s camel as the easiest means of finding the missing cop, Owen locates the unconscious man amidst a pit filled with snakes. The daughter of Abu the snake catcher helps rescue McPhee. When he comes around, McPhee explains that out of curiosity he tried to attend a Zzarr ritual performed by a local witch-priestess, but someone apparently drugged him. The British presence at a local religious ritual causes outbursts and turmoil, but makes the Mamur Zapt wonder if someone is trying to discredit the Cairo police. Could that person be recently released from jail rogue cop Philipides or one of the current law enforcement leadership? The Mamur Zapt seeks the truth, but first must get McPhee and Garvin out of town to prevent a nasty Egyptian backlash....................... The eighth Mamur Zapt police procedural is an insightful tale that provides an intriguing look at Cairo under the British protectorate. The story line contains a delightful investigative tale, but is more a historical novel than a law enforcement book. The characters are well drawn even if McPhee seems too bubblebrained to be more than just a political appointee. The period tidbits are quite enlightening and Owen¿s inquest is fun to observe so that the audience gains a pleasing intelligent tale................... Harriet Klausner

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