CBR14 Bingo: “Snake” – A character lies to a partner for fear of reprisal. The same charac ter under goes physical transformation due to heritage and the gifts of a goddess, which includes healing.
An alternate 1912 Cairo with lady investigators and magic? Yes, please! 40 years previous magic was reintroduced to the world and djinn were released by the magician, al’Jahiz. After a fraught time, djinn were integrated into Egyptian society. They have since used their abilities to bring wonderous, magical and mechanical inventions into being such as self driving vehicles and automaton servants. After the reintroduction of djinn, some have returned to the worship of the ancient Egyptian gods. Derisively referred to as idolaters, they believe if enough people return to worshipping the gods, they will return. This societal change has led to the creation of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities.
Fatma el-Sha’arawi is an agent of the ministry who flouts standard convention with a penchant for smartly tailored, and slightly flamboyant, suits. She stands alone as there are precious few females who work for the ministry. Fatma has been called to the estate of the English Basha, Alistair Worthington, where an unusual mass murder has occurred. The bodies have been completely burned to bone but clothing and jewelry are pristinely intact. While investigating the site, agent Hadia Abdel Hafez shows up with a surprise announcement for Fatma. Hadia has been assigned to be Fatma’s partner. A situation she is most resistant to after being a solo agent. What follows is an exciting mystery set in a world rich with magic and mysticism.
This book has been hyped by Cannonballers and my local independent, Mysterious Galaxy. Happily I can say it lived up to it’s reputation. I adore Fatma and her dapper ways, along with her relationship to her female lover, Siti. I appreciated watching Fatma grow as a person through her partnership with Hadia. I found the mystery engaging and especially liked the magical world that Clark has created. A Master of Djinn is a standalone novel but there were two works that preceded it, the novelette A Dead Djinn in Cairo and the novella The Haunting of Tram Car 015. I intend to seek these out and look forward to future works set in the “Dead Djinn Universe”.