Napoleon's Pyramids by William Dietrich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Another reviewer likened this to "Indiana Jones meets The Three Musketeers". I think that assessment is spot on. I might also throw in a bit of James Bond, though not quite as focused. If you like (or don't mind) your protagonists ready for anything, but rough around the edges, Ethan Gage is your man.
As the story opens, we find him in Paris, at loose ends, focused on cards and women and not much else. He wins a mysterious artifact in a poker game. He enjoys the company of a woman. She winds up dead and he winds up being the number one suspect. The rest of the book follows the misadventures wrought by the artifact and the trumped up murder charge.
He manages to escape the initial investigation by attaching himself to Napoleon's voyage to invade Egypt, along with several other scientists (constantly referred to as savants). But his trouble, along with Napoleon's, is only beginning. There are abundant battles won and lost, intrigues solved and raised, and harrowing escapes. Gage seems to accumulate allies and enemies as easily as most of us find dinner companions. The pace is not blistering, but it is relentless.
The prose is solid. The characters are colorful. The research seems solid. I really enjoyed this adventure.
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