Mini review: The Egyptian (Dominic Gray 02) by Layton Green

Book form: e-book, Kindle edition
Language: English
Genre: thriller, mystery, 
Target group: adults

Synopsis (with some spoilers concerning the first part, sorry):
It is the second part of the Dominic Gray series, started by The Summoner, reviewed by me not so long ago. It can be easily read as a stand-alone but starting from the beginning doesn’t hurt J.
Dominic, now living in New York, is recovering from his stint in Zimbabwe and from a broken romance with Nya. Not being able to come to terms with her ordeal, she asked him to leave and so he did but he could’t get over it. A broken-hearted guy needs an employment badly – anything to stop thinking about, well , his sad and solitary life and the rest of his blues. After a while he finally gets what he was wishing for. An Egyptian businessman and scientist called Al Miri contacts him through his current boss, Victor Radek, and wants him to find out what  happened to a silver test tube suspended in hydraulic stasis which had been stolen from his bio-tech company in Cairo, Egypt. Apparently a rival firm had managed to persuade one of Al Miri’s workers to steal the tube and sell it to them. All traces lead to a shady Bulgarian scientist who dabbles in the occult to find a source of eternal youth in the most literal sense.
 Soon enough Grey and Viktor are joined, against their better judgment of course, by an investigative reporter, Veronica, a specialist in tracking rogue biomedical companies and exposing their ugly deeds. Then they meet Jax, a former mercenary, who got mixed up with the whole business for money and now regrets every moment of it, having far more trouble than he bargained for. All of them will have to sift through science, myths, and murderous rogues  to uncover the truth behind the Egyptian and his sinister biotech – preferably before that truth kills them.
What I liked:
Have I mentioned that I am a real sucker for alchemy? If I haven’t, here it is – I make it official. It’s enough a book mentions Hermes Trismegistus, Prester John, golems, the Fountain of Youth, the Philosopher’s Stone, Emerald Tablets and Nicolas Flamel (not necessarily in this order) and it can win me over in a sec. This novel mixed all these ingredients together and the author did it in a clever way, apparently backed up by some serious research. I loved every second of it; in fact I wouldn’t mind having more.
The character development didn’t disappoint me either, at least in most of cases. Grey is perhaps still a bit too serious and taciturn but in the second installment it is apparent that he can think and feel, not only do jujitsu. We see less of Nya (good move imvho, she became a wet blanket a bit too soon) and a new girl, Veronica, is introduced. Overall I liked her better. She was perhaps a bit too much like one of these annoying Bond girls (you know the drift: intelligent but not overly so, very pretty, very sexy, definitely in need of a strong, manly arm) but I hope she will gain more depth later. I liked the fact that she fell in love and, despite her best efforts, it remained rather unrequited.


 I also liked the idea of adding another new character- Jax the mercenary – to the mix. Jax is very selfish, neither completely good nor totally bad but, maybe because of it, very likeable. He brings his ironic sense of humour and almost complete lack of scruples on board. Well, in the whole narration whirlwind I missed some humour in the first part too. Indiana Jones’s type of humour. Let’s face it: Grey is a dour kind of guy and while I understand the reasons behind it, his constant pining for Nya and reminiscing his harsh childhood and teen years can get tiresome after a while; Victor is even more sour from time to time, not to mention the fact that he is an absinthe addict (an original addiction, I grant you, but not exactly a sociable one). Veronica can be catty in an amusing way but, as she is now seriously in love with our long-faced Dominic, she is not exactly a ray of sunshine either. Jax, with his sexual innuendos, zest for life and witty remarks was like a whiff of fresh air in a stuffy room.
The setting was once again interesting. Perhaps not as exotic as Zimbabwe but interesting enough. The pace of narration, as in the first part, could leave you breathless (or, more precisely, reading greedily far longer than you had planned) so doing exactly what a real thriller should do to you.
What I didn’t like:
I could list here different minor quibbles (some scenes, like the just-in-time rescue of Veronica, were rather cheesy, fortunately not too many of them)  but there was one major drawback. Baddies. I noticed an improvement but not enough. Is it really that difficult to make your evil guy handsome, clever and enticing, at least for a moment or two? Apparently it is – in this part every baddie was physically repulsive in his own way so you knew at once when you read their descriptions what and who you were dealing with. Cliché. It’s good some of them (Al Miri) at least showed some higher feelings.
Final verdict:
I must visit Egypt and maybe also Bulgaria – if not this year then the next one. Going there, I will gladly reread this one. Or the next part, if available. It is really good and intelligent as far as thrillers go, not to mention the entertainment factor. I wouldn’t be surprised if the series was adapted for the screen in the near future.

A bottle of absinthe with a lovely Tiffany lamp. Enticing but dangerous.


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13 Responses to Mini review: The Egyptian (Dominic Gray 02) by Layton Green

  1. Blodeuedd says:

    Lol, repulsive baddies, aye that sucks. But if they are so ugly then no wonder they turned bad

  2. Anachronist says:

    LOL, you are completely right, Blodeuedd, sheer desperation after looking every day in the mirror and seeing a monster!

  3. Aurian says:

    Thanks for the review, it still sounds like a great adventure book.

  4. It does. I am a sucker for alchemy too.

  5. Anachronist says:

    Thanks Aurian and The Red Witch. I truly enjoyed that one despite some flaws!

  6. Tracy says:

    This one sounds fun! I agree, good lookers can be plenty evil, and ugly bastards can have a heart of gold – but the most successful villains must surely be plain ordinary, blend into the background, everyone ignores them? Would make it so much easier to get away with anything (or so they'd hope).

  7. Anachronist says:

    Plain ordinary villains would be quite fine, Tracy…I just hate it when, reading only a pyysical description, I can already put a character into the right box. The book was really nice.

  8. I love it when the totally handsome jerk is a badie instead of the clichéd ugly. Still, it sounds like a great book. Especially with otherwise good characterization! 🙂

  9. Nice review. I can't remember the last story I read that involved alchemy. Sounds really interesting.

  10. Anachronist says:

    Hear hear, Melissa!Thanks, Lena, it was original indeed!

  11. Is it weird that I knew you had a love of alchemy? I also enjoy it, oddly enough. Which is funny because Science and me are NOT friends. Nonetheless, you know my affection for Egypt and I would love to visit there one day. I told Hubby that I also wanted to visit Sofia, Bulgaria. I hear it's BEAUTIFUL! Although, I want to see Istanbul before Bulgaria. Have you ever read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova? If not, it's truly amazing. The writing I thought very good and most of the book takes place in Eastern Europe. It's a bit of fantasy, but more so on Dracula. Loved this review, B! It made me giggle a bit! :DJenIn the Closet With a Bibliophile

  12. Anachronist says:

    I must have The Historian, thank you very much for the tip. It is indeed weird that you knew so many things about me. Are you a psychic or what?Istambul is also on my list of places I would like to visit – go figure!

  13. Pingback: Review: The Metaxy Project by Layton Green | portable pieces of thoughts

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