Bird in a Snare

A Lord Hani Mystery

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
425 Pages
Reviewed on 07/22/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Bird In A Snare is a work of fiction in the historical, political thriller and mystery sub-genres, and was penned by author N. L. Holmes. Mixing some fascinating modern genres and concepts into an ancient historical setting, we find ourselves in Egypt during the reign of Amenhotep III. Our central protagonist is Hani, a royal scribe who finds himself burdened by diplomatic missions with questionable motives and struggles with the morality of his missions and the pressures put upon him by those in power. What results is an in-depth mystery wherein Hani must discover the truth, and a tale of a family deeply affected by the new changes in religion and regime.

Author N. L. Holmes delivers a superb and lavishly depicted Egyptian setting for this intense mystery novel, giving modern readers everything they need in terms of clues, details, emotional story arcs, and thrilling surprises. Hani is a confident hero whom readers can root for, a thoroughly good and tender man put to difficult tasks and trials. I found the cultural and social effects of the religious movement very interesting in terms of the way they split the family dynamic in the tale, and there was a huge resonance in the emotional relationship that Hani has with his struggling wife and newly-converted son. Add to this the well-penned mystery elements and a plot with plenty of satisfying twists and discoveries, and overall Bird In A Snare becomes a highly recommended, accomplished historical mystery read.

Debjani Ghosh

Lord Hani, a fourteenth-century Egyptian diplomat, is sent to investigate the murder of a leader of bandits in Syria. There, he finds himself mired in a tangle of corruption, treachery, and another murder. Before he can apprehend the killer, the new king strikes a fatal blow to Hani’s investigation. But why? Is the murderer someone particularly important, someone remarkably close to the king? His investigation is further complicated by the new king’s religious reforms that shake his family to the core. Under these tumultuous circumstances, can Hani find the killer? Read Bird in a Snare by N.L. Holmes to find out.

Bird in a Snare by N.L. Holmes is a beautifully written murder mystery set in fourteenth-century Egypt. Holmes weaves fiction with facts to produce a highly enjoyable book that will endear itself to any lover of historical whodunits. The book not only gave me the satisfaction of reading a mystery tale, but also a tale full of political intrigue and courtroom drama. Further, she gave me a glimpse into the change of regime from that of Amenhotep III's to Amenhotep IV's and its ramifications on Egyptian society. Holmes has achieved a commendable feat in Lord Hani – a historical figure as well as a diplomat-cum-detective. He is a mild-mannered, gentle, intelligent, and observant man; I warmed up to him in no time due to his sharp acumen and respect for others. His intense love for his family, loyalty towards his faith, and his sensitive nature make him a conscientious man and serve as a backdrop to the moral dilemma that Hani faces throughout the book. Holmes sketches Hani’s relationships with all his family members with a tenderness that made my heart ache.

Despite the plot being populated by several characters, I could identify every one of them due to their distinct voices. Moreover, a glossary of characters at the end serves as a helpful tracker. The book is also supplemented with a map to aid readers in keeping track of the geography. N.L. Holmes’ Bird in a Snare is a character-driven, slow-burn mystery. The smoothly flowing lyrical prose, vivid descriptions of the Egyptian landscape, and a story replete with rich historical details instantly drew me into Hani's world. The satisfactory conclusion to the mystery served as a cherry on the top. I heartily recommend it to fans of historical fiction and cozy mysteries.

Christian Sia

Bird in a Snare by N.L. Holmes is a beautiful story that transports readers to ancient Egypt, and the author writes so well about the culture and the political climate around the time of Amenhotep III. It follows the story of Hani, one of the king’s diplomats assigned to Syria to investigate the murder of a powerful bandit leader. It is while he is on the mission that the king dies and is replaced by Akhenaten, his son. Unlike his father, Akhenaten wants religious reforms and this has a devastating impact on Hani as his wife belongs to the family of the priests of Amen-Ra. His wife’s family suffers attacks from the king’s new vision and mission and Hani is forced to disinherit his own son. Hani is in the midst of tensions, including threats from unemployed mobs, corruption within the officials, and conflict between a vassal king and an important person from Egypt. Can he successfully fulfill his mission in the midst of such conflicts?

This is a beautiful novel that captures the mystery of Egypt that readers have read about in history books and the author does an impeccable job of highlighting the challenges of governance during the time of the pharaohs. The conflict involves the religious and political realities that defined the life of an Egyptian and the direct link between the ancient Egyptian religion and politics is interesting. N.L. Holmes’s writing is gorgeous and the historical and cultural elements of the setting are vividly captured. The reign of Akhenaten marks a nearly unimaginable overturning of millennia-old values and customs, a testimony to the absolute power of the king. Bird in a Snare is a delightful read, especially for fans of novels with a setting in ancient Egypt. It features great character development, well-handled conflict, and strong plot points.