Master of suspense James Patterson reopens the ultimate cold case—the unsolved death of King Tut.
A secret buried for centuries
Thrust onto Egypt's most powerful throne at the age of nine, King Tut was challenged from the first days of his reign. The veil of prosperity could not hide the bitter rivalries and jealousy that flourished among the Boy King's most trusted advisers. Less than a decade after his elevatation, King Tut suddenly perished, and in the years and centuries that followed, his name was purged from Egyptian history. To this day, his death remains shrouded in controversy.
The keys to an unsolved mystery
Intrigued by what little was known about Tut, and hoping to unlock the answers to the 3,000-year-old mystery, Howard Carter made it his life's mission to uncover the pharaoh's hidden tomb. He began his search in 1907 but encountered countless setbacks and dead ends before he finally discovered the long-lost crypt.
The clues point to murder
Now, in The Murder of King Tut, James Patterson and Martin Dugard dig through stacks of evidence—X-rays, Carter's files, forensic clues, and stories told through the ages—to arrive at their own account of King Tut's life and death. The result is an exhilarating, true crime tale of intrigue, passion, and betrayal that casts fresh light on the oldest mystery of all.
Didlington Hall Near Swaffham, England
"HOWARD, IS THAT YOU? What do you think you're doing in here?" asked Lord Amherst, swinging open the library doors. "These artifacts are irreplaceable. I've told you that before. You are a stubborn boy."
Thirteen-year-old Howard Carter quickly turned his head toward His Lordship. He was caught! He had been warned repeatedly about this room. He was definitely a stubborn boy.
It was the middle of the day. Young Carter was supposed to be helping his father, who was painting a new commission for His Lordship. In a moment of boredom, the boy had slipped away to the most forbidden and imposing room at Didlington Hall: the library.
He couldn't help himself. The room was utterly fascinating, its silence augmented by the startling, massive stone statues situated about the room, imported straight from the sands of Egypt. To gaze at them allowed Carter to see into the history of the known world. These pieces truly were irreplaceable.
Didlington Hall was a palatial fortress eight miles south of Swaffham. It was the county seat of Lord Amherst, a member of Parliament with a penchant for styling his hair in the foppish manner of oscar Wilde. Seven thousand acres and sixteen leased farms surrounded the great home. There was a large, pristine lake, a paddock, a falconer's lodge, a boathouse, and a ballroom that had been host to grand and important parties for more than a hundred years.
But it was the library that Howard Carter loved most, and he couldn't stay out of the room.
Fortunately, Lord Amherst was a nice man with five daughters; Carter was the closest thing to a son he'd ever had. He recognized the slender, strong-jawed young man's innate, sometimes fierce curiosity and saw in him something of himself.
He and young Carter both wanted—no, that would be too soft a description—demanded answers about what had come before them. They were obsessed with the ancient past.
So rather than kicking Carter out of the library, Lord Amherst proceeded to walk him through the wood-paneled room, patiently explaining the significance of the more notable books.
There was a priceless collection of Bibles, for example, many printed centuries earlier. There was a section devoted to incunabula, books printed shortly after the invention of the printing press. There were books with fancy bindings, first editions by famous authors, and so forth and so on.
And then there was the Egyptian collection.
In addition to owning tome after tome detailing the known history of ancient Egypt, Lord Amherst had rather obsessively decorated the library with Egyptian relics. The taller statues were bigger than a man and loomed like sentinels among the overstuffed wingback chairs and oil reading lamps. There were dozens of smaller statues too, and rare texts printed on papyrus that had been sealed behind glass so human hands like Howard's couldn't damage them. Amherst had bought the collection from a German priest two decades earlier and had added to it every year since.
"Not only is it the largest collection of Egyptology in all of Great Britain," he told Carter, "it is the joy of my life."
"And mine as well," Carter chimed in.
The tour concluded with a history-changing announcement: Lord Amherst was hereby offering the young man unlimited access to his collection. Never mind that something as simple as bumping into a statue could cause thousands of pounds' worth of damage—Amherst had seen the passion in Carter's eyes as he told him of the mysteries of Egyptian culture, with its strange alphabet and belief in the afterworld and the amazing burial chambers.
Amherst encouraged Carter to immerse himself in Egyptology. And that was precisely what Howard Carter did—until the day he died.
Copyright © 2009 by James Patterson
Joe Barrett is an accomplished stage, screen, and television actor. A two-time Audie Award finalist, Joe has also won five Earphones Awards from AudioFile magazine for his audiobook narrations.
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