Saturday, January 6, 2024

Secret of the Scarab by Isabella Bassett (Lady Caroline Murder Mysteries Book 5)

Publication Date: 
July 12, 2023

292 pages

In this latest installment, Lady Caroline goes to Egypt with her Uncle Albert. Her role is more than niece, she is his companion and assistant as well. Along with members of the Royal Society for Natural Appreciation, they are planning a luxurious boat trip down the Nile to the city of Luxor where they will join in an exciting archaeological dig. Albert is a good natured, quirky sort who is obsessed with carved, stone beetles, as are all the members of the Royal Society, due to their revered status in Ancient Egyptian culture. Scarabs, or stone beetles, are plentiful and exciting finds to the men who are engaged in a contest of sorts to see who can obtain the most. 

As they ready for their adventure, Uncle Albert, who loves to wear fez hats, is anxious to meet the Egyptian maker of said hats in the marketplace of Cairo. When he and Caroline set out to find the hat maker, they are met with a bizarre encounter that holds danger and a mysterious note. All is tucked away in their minds as they embark on their journey and soon they forget about it as they make their way down the Nile.

On the boat ride they are joined by not only the Royal Society members but their assistants, other archaeologists, and an eccentric woman who dabbles in the supernatural realm. When one of the guests is attacked and killed by a crocodile on the banks of the river, everyone wants to believe it isn't a bad omen, but rather an unfortunate run of bad luck. As they move on to the site, strange events continue to confuse and plague the travelers and they begin to feel there is something more sinister going on. Exciting finds await them as they work to unveil the treasures of the dig area but it soon becomes clear that what has been uncovered is more than what anyone expected. When another "accidental death" occurs, Lady Caroline, Albert, and her love interest, James, try to find out what they are witnessing and put the puzzle together before anyone else is harmed. 

My Thoughts:
This was one of the better cozy mysteries. I find that the ones I stick with tend to feel more authentic, with plenty of details of the period. This book was wonderfully researched and I truly felt as though I'd been dropped in Luxor, Egypt in the 1920's. The author consistently stayed true to form throughout the book and didn't just give a little color in the first chapter and leave it at that. So many "historical" mysteries tend to do that. I learned a lot about scarabs, Egyptian culture, and the history of the story behind the treasure they uncover at the dig site. With some cozies I find myself wanting to skip through pages to get to the end because the period details, history, and mystery are wearing off and I can feel that there isn't much else to know. I read every page of this book and enjoyed it, not wanting to skip to the end. 

Lady Caroline occasionally spends a chapter musing through questions about the case and this was a good way to recap things because there really is a lot going on. I thought the author did a good job of keeping me guessing and even after one thing was resolved, the true ending hadn't been revealed yet. It had two endings to work through and the murderer was well hidden. I will be reading another by this author and am sorry I missed that her latest was a Christmas mystery that came out in November. I'm hoping she writes another one soon in another exotic location. 

Her website is very interesting with explanations of her research. I had a fun time reading her notes about how she studies for her books. If you are interested it is


  1. This reminds me of Dorothy Gilman's Mrs. Pollifax series. I will give the book a read.

  2. You have reminded me that I need to get back to the Amelia Peabody series!

    Thanks for sharing your review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge