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Edward Whittemore: Nile Shadows

The first novel in this Quartet was a brilliant tour de force, running riot over history. By the time Whittemore arrived at this, the third one, he had run out of steam. This one concerns Stern, a character who had appeared in the two previous novels and starts with his death and then backflashes to the events that led up to this death. Many of the other characters from the two previous novels pop in – in particular O’Sullivan Beare and his erstwhile lover Maud, as well as new characters such as Beare’s slightly older brother, but it does not help. The book is a tired attempt to write a mystery – how come Rommel knows what the Brits are up to in the desert in 1942 and what is Stern’s involvement, if any? It also attempts some weak satire of the complex politics in the Middle East and, in particular the feeble attempts by the Brits to cope with them as well as making some pseudo-profound statements about terrorism, brotherly love, da-di-da-di-da. It ends up being boring, with the new characters being as exciting as lime jelly and the old ones as interesting as table mats. Forget the Quartet. Stick to Sinai Tapestry.

Publishing history

First published 1983 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston