Cover image for The last cut : a Mamur Zapt mystery
The last cut : a Mamur Zapt mystery
Pearce, Michael, 1933-
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
Scottsdale, AZ : Poisoned Pen Press, 2004.

Physical Description:
204 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
Originally published: 1998.
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For millennia, Egypt has depended upon the waters of the Nile. Its annual floods fertilize the land. By the time Britain extends its dominion over Egypt, the Cairo Barrage is the key to control, its name taken from the French term meaning a dam or irrigation channel designed to increase a river's depth or to divert its flow.

An attempt to blow up the Manufiyah regulator in the Barrage is not a petty matter. Gareth Owen, The Mamur Zapt, Chief of Cairo's Secret Police, is hurriedly summoned. He hasn't a clue what a regulator is. Nor can he identify the mysterious Lizard Man who seems to have a grudge against the whole Egyptian irrigation system. But he does know that the ceremonial cutting of the temporary dam thrown up each year across the mouth of the Khalig Canal restarts the whole irrigation cycle, allowing water to pour through the canal and signal the opening of dams all across the land. The cut will require policing. Especially as it is going to be the last cut before the canal is filled in.

While this modernization will wipe out a health hazard, the Cairenes love the party that goes with the cut. They are less than happy with the dam. Things grow worse when a young woman's body is discovered at the site. Owen has to say it's extremely embarrassing. Is this the traditional ritual sacrifice? Or a sign of sabotage? A diversion? Or just plain murder?

Author Notes

Michael Pearce lives in London and is the author of fourteen Mamur Zapt novels, including The Mamur Zapt and the Spoils of Egypt, for which he was awarded the Crime Writers' Association's prestigious Last Laugh Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Witty, intelligent, and charming, Pearce's Mamur Zapt series never fails to please. In the latest installment, the delightful Gareth Owen, Mamur Zapt (chief of the secret police) of Cairo, is called in when one of the city's main dams is sabotaged with a well-placed bomb. It's urgent to find out what happened, since the bombing occurs on the eve of the Cut, a quasi-pagan celebration during which the waters of the Nile are released to irrigate the crops. If the dam is destroyed, the celebration will be a castastrophe. Adding to Owen's worries is the body of a young woman, which has been left on the spot used in past centuries to sacrifice a maiden during the Cut. Now, what with bombings and dead maidens, the locals are worried that the gods are trying to tell them something. Are the tragedies the work of the mythic and mysterious Lizard Man? Owen knows Lizard Man isn't real, but if he doesn't find a logical explanation, panic could rage through Cairo's normally peaceful streets. A gentle gem of a book. --Emily Melton Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Michael Pearce continues to display his mastery of the light historical in The Last Cut: A Mamur Zapt Mystery, in which his quick-witted and personable hero, Gareth Owen, tries to defuse tensions arising from two crimes centered on a major Nile dam. A compelling whodunit, in addition to the usual witty writing and convincing evocation of colonial Egypt, makes this one of the author's better efforts in the series. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved