Death of
An Effendi

Michael Pierce
(Poisoned Pen Press)
Cairo 1909. Under British control, Egypt is a simmering stew of international competition against a backdrop of burgeoning nationalist resentment. A wealthy Russian refugee with visionary ideas goes boating with the Mamur Zapt, the head of the secret police ... and winds up dead.

Fearful of the secret police no one inquires too closely, except the Mamur Zapt himself, a wily Welshman with an Egyptian girlfriend who knows he didn't shoot the Russian effendi and wonders who did --- and why.

If you like cozy British mysteries but are ready for more exotic climes, Death of an Effendi is for you. The author grew up the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and later taught there, and his evocation of the era and the people is believable. The spare prose manages to sketch rather than paint, while the dialog is dry and witty. The comedy of incompetent bureaucrats is a continuing theme, but Pierce never gets far from the murder.

A workmanlike tale of mystery and detection set among the reeds of the ancient Nile.

--- Robin Harris

Bury the Lead
David Rosenfelt
(Mysterious Press)
Paterson, New Jersey, today. A wealthy but cowardly criminal defense attorney defends a skillfully framed reporter against charges that he is a serial killer of women. Neither is very popular, and the police have seemingly incontrovertible evidence. But the attorney's friends and associates, many of them former clients, won't give up until justice is done.

Part police procedural, part legal thriller and part comedy, Bury the Lead is a charming read with enough twists to keep your attention until the cliffhanger denouement. Rosenfelt's witty, worldly-wise storytelling never drags. The dialogue is sharp and the New Jersey attitude authentic.

And there's Tara, the golden retriever whose official name is "Tara, Greatest Living Creature on This or Any Other Planet."

Cat people, you've been warned.

--- Robin Harris
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