Reviews for The Camel of Destruction, by Michael Pearce

smcleish's review

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4.0

Originally published on my blog here in June 2001.

The camel of destruction is apparently a figure from Arab legend, which has an aptly descriptive name. In this novel, more serious in tone than most of the Mamur Zapt stories, a plan to build new roads right through ancient parts of the city of Cairo is likened to the camel.

The case which Owen, as Mamur Zapt in charge of order in the city of Cairo in the early part of the twentieth century, investigates is the suicide of a civil servant, trying to find out what put him under so much pressure that he killed himself and who paid for the improvements recently carried out on his family house. It seems to be connected with the murky and complicated world of Egyptian finance, including schemes to attract foreign investment (and make vast amounts of money on the side) like the road.

It is the complex political machinations which take up the space generally occupied by humour in this series, but that doesn't stop The Camel of Destruction being an entertaining detective story with an atmospheric historical background.

helenh's review

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4.0

The plot is convoluted and clear at the same time (which isn't easy to do). Certainly a book for fans of the series, but I wouldn't recommend it for someone just getting started -- this is definitely a series that should be read from the beginning! The rationale behind the murder takes some getting to, but it's the characterization that stands out from the rest -- Pearce is a master at capturing all the individuals involved in the story, and in this time frame (early Edwardian Egypt) and this setting (ditto), that takes some doing, but he accomplishes it handily.
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