Barnabus Tew & The Case of the Missing Scarab
by Columbkill Noonan
Barnabas Tew is a private detective struggling to survive in his trade in Victorian London. Fearing that he is not as clever as he had hoped to be, he is plagued by a lack of confidence brought on in no small part by his failure to prevent the untimely deaths of several of his clients.
Matters only get worse when Anubis, the Egyptian God of the Dead, is referred to Barnabas by a former client (who perished in a terribly unfortunate incident which was almost certainly not Barnabas’ fault). Anubis sends for Barnabas (in a most uncivilized manner) and tells him that the scarab beetle in charge of rolling the sun across the sky every day has been kidnapped, and perhaps dismembered entirely.
The Land of the Dead is in chaos, which will soon spill over into the Land of the Living if Barnabas – together with his trusty assistant, Wilfred – cannot set matters to right. Pulled from his predictable (if unremarkable) life in Marylebone, Barnabas must match his wits against the capricious and dangerous Egyptian gods in order to unravel the mystery of the missing beetle and thereby save the world.
Take an egocentric private detective, add in an assistant who you imagine really should be running the show, and put them before Anubis, Egyptian God of the Dead and you have the quirkiest, mystery-solving team in the Underworld.
Barnabus Tew brings a touch of Je ne sais quoi to the art of detection – trouble is, he doesn’t know what that is either. Before his untimely death, all his clients came a cropper too. But it was on the recommendation of one very dead customer that Tew, and his amiable assistant Wilfred, caught the eye of the Egyptian god, Anubis.
Khepre, the Scarab Beetle god, whose job it is to roll the sun across the sky to create nightfall, has gone missing. As a result, the Underworld is stuck in a never-ending high noon that could very well be replicated in the world of the Living if Khepre isn’t found – in one piece.
A severed beetle leg suggests they may be too late!
Barnabus and Wilfred, with more luck than judgement, travel through the Underworld to interrogate their suspects. As they visit other gods, their plight worsens as they face unknown dangers, the like of which they could never have imagined. Many such visits actually make matters worse, leaving them no closer to solving the mystery of Khepre’s whereabouts.
While Barnabus Tew would never be my first choice were I to need a detective, he possesses a charm that had me rooting for him, willing him to do well. His relationship with Wilfred is based on that of a boss and employee, yet it is his assistant who frequently has the ideas when Barnabus stalls for time. Their interaction oozes effortless comedy, yet Barnabus is so, so serious about the task in hand that he always strives to find an explanation for the absurd predicaments they find themselves in.
The narrator’s Victorian tone is a perfect fit. From the moment Barnabus and Wilfred visit the museum to see the Mummy, I was hooked. I’m a sucker for an authentic setting, and while the story soon shifts to the Underworld, the characters continue with their Victorian attitudes and mannerisms – very much in the style of keeping “a stiff upper lip” at all costs.
This is a fun-to-read book with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments that will hit you when you least expect them. If you enjoy a mystery with a unique flavour, if you appreciate dry wit, and if you are even the slightest bit interested in Egyptian mythology, then this is a book you must read. The hapless (or is he?) detective and his rational sidekick promise to entertain.
About the author:
Columbkill Noonan lives in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, where she teaches yoga and Anatomy and Physiology. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her first novel, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab” by Crooked Cat Books, was released in 2017, and her latest work, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds”, is set to be released in September 2018.
In her spare time, Columbkill enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, aerial yoga, and riding her rescue horse, Mittens. To learn more about Columbkill please feel free to visit her website or find her on Facebook and / or Twitter
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