The Curious Affair of the Missing Mummies
By Lisa Tuttle
- The Curious Affair of the Missing Mummies
Author: Lisa Tuttle
- Series: Book 3 of Jesperson & Lane
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
- ISBN: 9781529422740
- Published: June 2023
- Pages: 420
- Format reviewed: Paperback
- Review date: 09/06/2023
- Language: English
One of the many lessons that I have learned in life is that you do not mess with Mummies. Either kind. Annoying a new mother who is trying to get their child onto the bus if dangerous and only equalled by an antient Egyptian Mummy rising from the dead. The Mummies in Lisa Tuttle’s The Curious Case of the Missing Mummies are a little more docile and it seems like a simple case of theft, or is it?
Di Lane and Jasper Jesperson have had their private detective business for almost a year now and are going through a quiet patch. No cases are interesting enough for Jesperson until the case of some missing Mummies. Egyptian artefacts have been taken from the British Museum and rather than publicising the fact, the detective duo is hired to investigate discreetly. They soon discover a world of academics and fanatics. Who could be to blame for the missing items?
This is the third case in the Jesperson and Lane series and I must admit to having not read the first two. However, Mummies works as a standalone novel as you soon get a sense of the relationship between the two characters. Partners in business, but Miss Lane would consider the possibility of partners in life too, only Jesperson always has his head in the clouds or a book. The central relationship is not overplayed in the book, and this is a benefit. It not only allows Tuttle to play the development of the relationship slowly but allows the mystery centre stage.
The setting and feeling of Mummies have unescapable similarities to Sherlock Holmes, although it does feel like its own thing. Jesperson may be aloof and an intellectual, but his powers are not on the level of Holmes. This book is more grounded in the grunt work that is required to get a case solved. The series is also happier to play with the supernatural. While Dr Watson and Holmes would investigate the implausible, there was always a rational and real-world solution. Tuttle is much happier to explore the supernatural.
Mummies is a well-designed crime story with an interesting premise and enough potential suspects to keep the reader guessing. Both Lane and Jesperson are likable characters. The story is told from Lane’s perspective, the Watson to Jesperson’s Sherlock. This format works well as Lane is central to the main events in the story. When she is not Tuttle does a good job of having her observe from afar what is happening.
Tuttle recreates a believable mid 19th Century Britain, one that is obsessed with death and the beyond. Egyptian artefacts are looted from tomes and taken to museums, but also sold in curio shops for the average joe to buy. We learn that mummified cats were found so often that they were used as fertiliser. The story flirts with the supernatural as mediums and the obsessed are involved, but the solution may just be good old-fashioned burglary. It is up to the reader to finish the book to discover whether the Mummies were stolen or walked out on their own two feet.
Written on 9th June 2023 by Sam Tyler .