Thursday, April 19, 2012
The Locked Tomb Mystery - Elizabeth Peters
Story: The Locked Tomb Mystery
Author: Elizabeth Peters
Source: The Mammoth Book of Historical Whodunnits, The Mammoth Book of Egyptian Mysteries
Story Number: 101
Just bought both these titles in the Friends of The Public Library bookstore and this story immediately caught my eye for two reasons – it was in both the collections and it involved a locked room mystery! And hence it was obviously hard to let it go! Crocodile On The Sandbank is one of her books which I’ve heard a lot about but haven’t got around to yet.
Senebtisi’s funeral had been the talk of the town because of the riches that she took along with her to the next world, leaving her son penniless. When there is a spate of tomb robberies on the west bank and the riches from inside the tombs start floating around in the open market, the citizens are a worried lot. One such tomb robbery puzzles everyone – including the Pharaoh, who hires Amenhotep Sa Hapu to investigate the strange robbery – the facts of the case goes something like this:
Senebtisi’s son Minmose decides to make sure that his mother’s tomb hasn’t been disturbed. He requests the Priest who helped in the burial ceremony to inspect the tomb; the necropolis seal is intact, they still decide to break open the seal and enter to make sure that the thieves haven’t dug a tunnel into the tomb. When they enter the tomb, the priest witnesses the mummy to have been dragged out of the burial chamber, the valuables are missing, the body inside the mummy has been torn open and yet the stone tomb itself hadn’t been broken in – the seals on the door were intact, the mortal untouched, there was no break of the smallest size in any of the tomb walls or ceilings and the dust lay undisturbed on the floor.
Amenhotep knows who the culprit is right from the beginning but he has no proof or evidence to show for it – the two interviews of the priest and Minmose provide him and the reader sufficient clues to figure out the clever trick of the locked tomb!