Reviewed by Jetana Mutter
*This book was provided for an honest review
A good mystery has the power to engross us all- sort of like a car wreck. We can’t help but look at every angle even when all we want to do is to pull ourselves away. A great mystery not only captivates you, it immerses you within the world of the characters and keeps you guessing right up until the end. Detective stories have been a staple in mysteries since around 1841- when Edgar Allen Poe published The Murders in the Rue Morgue in a magazine; however, the most iconic of names that come to mind in a detective mystery is Sherlock Holmes, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and known to the public in 1887. The draw of Sherlock Holmes is the quick wit, the banter between him and Dr. Watson, and their infallible deductive skills that catches the correct perpetrator in the end. Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab is a great mystery that reaches for the mighty torch that Sherlock Holmes carries- and it’s one that I believe the torch can rightfully be passed on to.
Barnabas Tew has made it his life’s mission to be a great detective like his hero, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Reading the first tale of the adventures of Holmes and Watson as a boy made quite the impression on the young Barnabas- so much so that it marked his chosen career path. He spent all his schooling to pursue being a real life Sherlock, thinking that he would quickly rise up as the detective in Victorian London. A decade, and a string of attempts to solve a case later, Barnabas is still looking for the one case that will shoot his career on a fast track. Wilfred, his loyal assistant, knows that Barnabas is well intentioned but they still haven’t had any luck with their cases- usually someone ends up dead before they can solve the case successfully. To try to bring his employer out of his slump, Wilfred suggests that they attend the new exhibit at the museum- the Egyptian Mummy. Spending the day at the museum helps to get Barnabas’ mind off the failed cases that he has taken on, but as a result, the pair completely lose track of time and find themselves locked inside of the now closed museum. In their search for a person or an unlocked door to leave, Wilfred and Barnabas come up to some strange happenings. When Barnabas comes to, he finds himself being ferried across the River of the Dead, on his way to meet Anubis in the ancient Egyptian Underworld. Barnabas’ services have come highly recommended to Anubis from a former client of his and Anubis is convinced that Barnabas is just the right guy for the job. Khepre, the scarab beetle god that is responsible for rolling the sun across the sky and allowing nightfall to come, has gone missing… and he could be facing dismemberment. With Khepre missing, the Underworld is stuck in a perpetual high noon that will leak into the world of the Living if he cannot be found. Will Barnabas and Wilfred be able to find the missing scarab? Will they be able to solve the case and apprehend the perpetrator before it’s too late? Pick up a copy of Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab and find out!
When I first saw this book, the cover immediately drew me in. The figure of Barnabas with the pocket watch, the candelabra and Victorian designs in black and white with just a splash of color intrigued me- it’s definitely not something you see every day. I started reading it and was deeply drawn into the world of Barnabas- his struggles are something that everyone can relate to on some kind of level (not just about the detective work). When he is introduce into the ancient Egyptian Underworld, I knew that this was my kind of book. I love everything to do with ancient Egypt (I’ve always been drawn to it though I’ve never figured out why) so I relished the fact that Barnabas is set in the ancient Egyptian world. There was the perfect amount of comedic relief to the characters that makes this book stand out in so many ways. Most mysteries are done in serious tones- as most story lines such as those should be- but with Barnabas, it helps to make the affection that you develop for the characters that much more special when you add in the unintended comedy between Wilfred and Barnabas (though completely intentional from Columbkill to make the characters seem more real). Columbkill Noonan will do for Barnabas what Doyle did for Sherlock. This is the first time I have had the pleasure of reading Noonan’s work, but it most certainly will not be the last. I look forward to the next book in the Barnabas Tew series, where the two will be attempting to solve a case for the Norse God, Odin.