Saturday, December 30, 2006

Erased From Memory - Diana O'Hehir

Erased From Memory
Diana O’Hehir
Berkley Prime Crime


Carla day and her father, 86 year old retired Egyptologist Edward Day are spending the day in Edward’s favorite place: the Egypt Regained Museum. Despite the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Day still loves the museum and its artifacts; in particular, the ornately inscribed coffin lid that he discovered and that brought him a good measure of fame.

On this particular day, a man falls to the floor, choking. Edward attempts to help him, but an onlooker accuses him of strangling the man, who turns out to be one of the museum’s trustees. An insensitive sheriff doesn’t help matters, as he believes that Edward is faking his affliction in order to deflect blame. Edward is briefly arrested, but is released when it becomes clear that the victim is not dead, but in some near-coma state. That state is short lived, though, and the man vanishes from the hospital only to turn up dead with an Egyptian ankh in his mouth.

Throughout the investigation, Edward insists upon revisiting the coffin lid when the man’s death or disappearance is mentioned, and repeats that the now-dead man was “trying to eat life.” Carla investigates both her father’s cryptic statements and the man’s death, unaware of the danger closing in on her and her father.

This novel, the follow-up to MURDER NEVER FORGETS, works on several levels. The mystery is involving and clever, and ends with a shocking denouement. There’s also the lovely story of an adult daughter caring for her aging father, and the battle that both of them wage against debilitating Alzheimer’s. Since her father was 60 at the time of her birth, their relationship is perhaps a bit different than the norm, but Carla’s memories of trips to Egypt and her father’s studies and behavior makes it obvious that the two are close. The author never strays into soppy sentimentality, in keeping with Carla’s straightforward manner. Readers who enjoy a mystery with a few extra layers, and a good dose of Egyptology will enjoy this one.

Rating: 8 ½
December 2006
ISBN# 0-425-21216-5 (hardcover)


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