The Murder of King Tut
The Plot to Kill the Child King - A Nonfiction Thriller
By James Patterson and Martin Dugard
Little, Brown and Company (2009), 416 pages
Large Print Edition
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - June 30, 2010
James Patterson tells us with some enthusiasm, because this book is important to him, that the volume contains three stories: his own tale of how he wrote his history, the adventure of the eccentric Howard Carter who discovered King Tut's grave, and the life of King Tut and his death. Patterson states that he is certain that Tut was murdered and promises to reveal the murderer.
He writes that he will tell us the truth. "It's nothing new for histories to be speculative, but there's a difference between guessing and basing a theory on cold facts. We chose the facts."
Some readers may agree that there are facts in the book, but still feel that the bulk is pure speculation. For example, the authors describe how one Pharaoh died while having sex and gives a description of King Tut's sexual experience on his wedding night. These episodes add drama, but they are certainly not based on facts.
Other readers may question whether he overcame the general scientific view that Tut died from infections that followed a fall. They may also be unconvinced that the murderer(s) – I do not want to reveal if it was a he or she or more than one – was/were who he identified. Patterson presents no evidence to support either assertion.
Still others will recognize that despite the claim that this is "a non-fiction thriller," it is actually historical fiction. Others may even claim that it is historical fiction lite. However, despite these criticisms, the book is entertaining and does give us, as does all historical fiction, a sense of a time and people who we should know something about.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.