Cover image for The fig tree murder : a Mamur Zapt mystery
The fig tree murder : a Mamur Zapt mystery
Pearce, Michael, 1933-
Personal Author:
1st U.S. ed.
Publication Information:
Scottsdale, Ariz. : Poisoned Pen Press, 2003.

Physical Description:
185 pages ; 23 cm
Why was the body put on the line? Chance? Or did someone want to halt the progress of the new electric railway out from Cairo to the city of Pleasure being built in the suburbs?

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Michael Pearce's tenth irresistible adventure for Colonial Egypt's the Mamur Zapt is fresh, funny, and "Still as fertile as your favourite oasis." Inevitably, as the tide of Nationalism sweeps the British Protectorate towards the realities of the dawning Twentieth Century, New Egypt is eroding the ways of the Old. But, as Gareth Owen, head of Cairo's Secret Police well knows, "The Old Egypt had a habit of rising up every so often and giving the New an almighty kick in the teeth."

It's called the Tree of the Virgin. It's a sycamore, actually, not the English sort but the Egyptian, a species of fig. The tree is a site of religious interest, said to be a spot where the Virgin Mary hid herself from Herod's soldiers in its branches. Or perhaps the Virgin and Child rested there on their flight into Egypt. Whatever, it's perilously close to the gash being cut for the new electric railway running out of Cairo to the New Helipolis being built in the suburbs. Sinister power groups are jostling for position, but who dumped the body of the humble villager on the track? Was it mere chance? Had the victim been caught up in a traditional revenge killing? Or did someone want to halt construction?

The Mamur Zapt, adept in picking his way through the local and national power structures, refers the removal of the body to committee. But, he has to ask, what is the significance of the Fig Tree? Does it matter that the caravans for Mecca gather only a mile or so away? And what of the ostrich that passed in the night?

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 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

First published in the U.K. in 1996, Pearce's 10th Mamur Zapt mystery is good on period atmosphere but less successful as a whodunit. Gareth Owen, who as the Mamur Zapt heads the secret police for the British in early 20th-century Cairo, is summoned when a corpse is discovered on an unfinished piece of railroad track linking the capital city to a new city under development. The location of the body suggests that the crime may be the work of nationalists or religious figures opposed to the project. In addition to tackling the murder, Pearce's engaging creation masterfully uses his familiarity with bureaucracy to douse the brewing controversy surrounding the ownership of a nearby fig tree said to be linked to the Virgin Mary. As in several of its predecessors, the circle of suspects is a little too narrow to afford the author the ability to enhance his entertaining with a real puzzle. (Dec. 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved