Monday, February 20, 2012

The Jackal Man by Kate Ellis

Clare Mayers was walking back home after a few drinks. on the solitary dark road to her house she noticed a belligerent animal, the size of a man running up towards her. The frightened girl turned and ran back but soon she found herself being strangled around the neck with a wire. An approaching car proved to be her life saver as the attacker ran on seeing the headlights. Clare described to the police that the perpetrator of her ordeal was a man wearing a dog mask.

Later, the police found another victim and this time she is not lucky. The enigmatic attacker has succeed where he failed earlier. He strangled the victim and then tore off her clothes, cut out her organs and put them in a pile neatly besides the body, and then wrapping her in linen clothes Prepared her for the afterlife just as the ancient Egyptians would.
Also the killer leaves a statue of the God Anubis besides the scene of the crime. Anubis is the Egyptian god of mummification.

As more murders take place the police discover that the killer was not wearing a dog mask, but the mask of Anubis. The killer is copying a string of gruesome murders which happened in the same vicinity in 1903.


I wanted to read something completely different in the mystery genre. So did a lot of research on books outside the sub-genres of Cozy mysteries and locked room murders. The Jackal Man by Kate Ellis seemed like a good option. I'm happy to report that my labors did not go in vain. The book is what people refer to as "unputdownable".

The Story is original and intriguing and holds your interest till the very end. Kate mixes the past with the present competently. The book has three scenes or three main point of views. One is historical which is of a governess who lives in the castle of an Egyptologist  and she witnesses four gruesome murders. The second is of Neil Watson an archaeologist who visits the same castle in present day and finds some peculiar things going on and the third is of our protagonist Wesley Peterson who is investigating the murders. All three provide relief from one another in the 400 page long book and you feel like you are reading three different stories related in someway.

The use of Egyptian mythology and ancient rituals bring an added ascendancy to the book and give the book an exotic flavor along with the modern setting of Devon backwaters. Also you get to learn about some of the Egyptian mythology through the book.

I felt the book was a lot like The Way Through the Woods by Colin Dexter which used the protracted police rigmarole. but Dexter missed the Egyptian charm and the modicum of history. also the detective here is no genius, he is another police officer and no secrets with him. He does not keep anything to himself. Lets the reader "in the know".

One thing which is different about this book is that you watch the murders happen. In a Christie or a Carr or any other author of the past the murder has already happened in the book or is hidden from the reader. Here you actually witness the murder without seeing the identity of course. I'm not saying I liked that just stating an observation.

This is a recommended read but is not a light or easy read, after reading this I felt I need a break from reading. It is heavy but not to be missed. I'm sure they will make a movie out of it.

I'm submitting this review as part of the BBC.

Where can you buy it? The usual suspect flipkart, infibeam and landmark. Its about Rs 550 

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