Author: Edward Whittemore
Original language: English
On a clear night in 1942 a hand grenade exploded in a Cairo slum, killing one man instantly. That man is Stern, an obscure gunrunner and morphine addict whose death should be of no significance during the darkest days of the century. In the Western Desert the Germans are advancing from victory to victory, and Rommel’s powerful Afrika Corps is threatening to overrun Egypt and seize control of the Middle East. Yet Allied Intelligence takes a very special interest in Stern and in the enigma of his death, which may decide the outcome of the entire war. More and more lies hidden in the question: which side did he serve? The search for the truth about Stern leads his friend, Joe O’Sullivan Beare, through the slums of Old Cairo to a decaying former brothel called the Hotel Babylon. There in the basement sits Bletchley, a spy with a shattered face who boils tea on a hot plate. At the front desk, Ahmad, an aging failure of a poet, mulls over the society pages of thirty years ago while guarding a secret closet. And with the help of a sad clown and illusionist named Liffy, the mysterious code of Stern’s life is finally deciphered as Joe journeys into the past to uncover the shadowy network of a lost world: the black archaeologist Menelik, who lived in a cork-lined sarcophagus; the immensely wealthy Crazy Cohen, patriarch of the famous Cairo Cohens; the ancient twin sisters Big Belle and Little Alice, who reminisce by candlelight in a fabled houseboat on the Nile.
Nile Shadows is storytelling in the grand manner, a novel about good and evil and their strange disguises, about love and the mysteries of time and the tragedy of war, a rich and magical odyssey spanning more than a century.