The Book of the Dead

The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln ChildAuthor: Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Publisher: Warner Books (2006)
Number of Pages: 454
How long it took me to read: 1 week
Where I got this book: local library
ISBN: 978-0-446-57698-7

Like a Moth to a Flame

I had just recently read one of their newer books, which was fairly enjoyable, and I decided to sample some of their older works. Knowing vaguely about the Egyptian Book of the Dead, I thought this might be a good mystery as well as an educational read.

Download on the iBookstoreGet it on AmazonGet it at Barnes & NobleGet it at Alibris UK

Favorite Five

I propose that the top 5 quotes from this book are:

5. “ ‘From what I heard, that museum administrator actually soiled his drawers.’ ” (p.8)

4. “Glinn felt a chill horror settle over him, and he felt an illogical need to wash his hands. The thought of something so awful, so utterly terrifying, that a seven-year-old could possibly be induced to…” (p.306)

3. “The mummy now began to open its jaw, the dry lips cracking and flaking off as they drew back from a rack of brown, rotting teeth. The mouth became a sinkhole of black slime, which began to seethe and wriggle. Then, as she watched in horror, it morphed into a swarm of greasy black cockroaches, which began rustling and crawling their way out of the ruined orifice.” (p.340)

2. “Do the noble thing. End your unnatural life…
P.S. I was surprised to see how juvenile your earlier attempt at suicide was. Surely, you now know not to slash willy-nilly across your wrists…” (pp.344-5)

…and my pick for the No.1 quote is…

1. “Coffey started to walk past her desk. Then he paused. ‘So. How are things down on the farm?’
‘Seems to be ruttin’ season for hogs,’ she responded without a pause, not even looking at him.” (p.34)

Conversation with the Reader

While I read, I write, and as I write, I read. Here’s some of what I wrote while I read this book:

“This appears to be a stand-alone book at first glance. There’s nothing on the cover that suggests it’s part of a series. However, as I’m reading, it’s obvious I’m missing something because the authors are making so many assumptions about what I already know about the characters and plots. I seldom read book reviews because I want to form my own opinions, but I’m searching for some now after reading about a quarter of the book because it’s obvious I’m missing crucial information. What’s missing? Well, for example, who the hell is Constance and why is she so weird? Why was an FBI agent in prison and when were the diamonds stolen?”

“There are some interesting insights on Egyptian burials and tombs in the book, as well as on the God of the Sun, Ra, whom I’m quite familiar with. I worship him whenever I’m floating on my air mattress in Lake Michigan and basking in his light. Ra actually came to me in a dream years ago when I was dreaming about healing light; he told me his name, which I had to look up in a dictionary to see who he was. I remember nothing else from the dream but I know Ra is always there (even during the cloudy winters of northern Michigan). However, I sure wish he had come to tell me in a recent dream to read the previous books before I started this one.”

“Fascinating things I’m learning while reading this book: the correct way to cut my wrists while attempting suicide; how to create panic, fear, and terror within a large group that will later lead to severe PTSD symptoms; and how to make nitroglycerin. The first two things I already know from being a therapist, and the last tidbit is really one I don’t think I’ll need in my everyday life.”

“This book is not the fun, whimsical material of the movie, A Night at the Museum, with the interesting subjects that come alive when the lights go off. The part I’m reading now is terrifying, describing tombs with vivid descriptions of blood and guts, horror, macabre twists, and psychopathology. The symmetry of the tomb raiding of Ancient Egypt and the current plot is well conceived and finely detailed. Too bad the authors aren’t ending the book with this climax, as it’s the natural closing of the story. Instead, I’m skimming over these last 100 pages, which are tedious and superfluous to the plot.”

“Now that I’m at the end of the book (after trying to figure out the background of the plot for over 400 pages), the authors reveal than this is a trilogy and that I should read the previous books before tackling this one. Really—that’s such a big help to me, as I’m sure it’s been to many previous readers (add dripping sarcasm).”

“Not the greatest book, but not the worst. Some of the details and one of the plot lines are actually quite mysterious, engaging, and creepy. The insights into Egyptian history are fascinating, yet much of the book is fantasy-driven and just plain unrealistic. The hero is too perfect with his Superman-like competencies and his nauseating goodness in his battle against evil. Please, no one is like this. I haven’t decided whether I will read the two previous novels in the series; probably only if I get desperate and the library doesn’t have any good new reads.”


  1. Pender Fan says:

    Like you I started the Pendergast Novels with this book. I bought it cheap at Walmart because of the cover. I have an interest in Egypt, and I thought the book took place there or maybe was related to some ancient tomb lore. Then I found the little note from the Author’s in the back, so went back to the beginning and read all the books.

    I suggest that if you want to read this book, you really only need to go back one or two books: Brimstone and definitely Dance of Death. Dance of Death details 1) how the diamonds were stole, and 2) why agent Pendergast is in Prison.

    I have to admit that I’m a huge fan of Pendergast. Preston & Child also write some pretty good stand alone non-Pendergast books. You might enjoy Thunderhead or Riptide.

  2. Cappi says:

    Using this review, I am undecided about reading this book. I think if I do, I’ll get the other 2 first and read them in order.

  3. LIA says:

    The reveiwer hit the nail on the head for this book.

Leave a Reply