Hello hello and welcome to my spot on the blog tour for The Embalmer, by Alison Belsham and published by Trapeze. After hearing the synopsis of this book, I was so keen to be involved as it ticked so many of the boxes of interest for me. My thanks to Trapeze at Orion for my advanced copy of the book, which is out now.
Has the ancient Egyptian cult of immortality resurfaced in Brighton?
When a freshly-mummified body is discovered at the Brighton Museum of Natural History, Detective Francis Sullivan is at a loss to identify the desiccated woman. But as Egyptian burial jars of body parts with cryptic messages attached start appearing, he realises he has a serial killer on his hands. Revenge, obsession and an ancient religion form a potent mix, unleashing a wave of terror throughout the city. Caught in a race against time while battling his own demons, Francis must fight to uncover the true identity of the Embalmer before it’s too late…
Today I’ll be sharing an extract from the book, under the steady glare of my cat, who is obviously annoyed he and his kind are no longer seen as representatives of gods and worshiped. I’ll be sharing my review at some point later on, but for now, here’s chapter one from The Embalmer.
There’s a man. A man who believes he’s immortal. Or at least on his way to immortality. He’s followed the instructions, point by point. He’s making his way along the sacred path, so he can take his place among the gods.
Ra, the sun god.
Amun, the invisible one.
Isis, the mother.
Apophis. The Great Serpent. His god, the one he worships.
If he succeeds in what he’s doing, he’ll become one with Apophis.
He’ll become the living incarnation of the Great Serpent. And in death, he’ll become immortal.
The man stands in front of the altar and sighs. He extinguishes the candles with the softest touch of his fingers, relishing the burn to his mortal flesh. He won’t need it much longer. He bows his head and whispers the name of his god.
‘Apophis. God of snakes. Watch over me and protect me.’
He makes a soft hissing noise, as he walks across the stone floor of the shrine to where the mummified woman lies, so beautifully wrapped, in her casket. The night’s work is ahead of him. With the sacrifice he’s made, he’ll announce his arrival to the world. A new god moving among them. He checks off the list of what he’ll need with the stub end of an ancient pencil. Small teeth marks pit the wood – he remembers chewing on it as he struggled with homework. All those years ago. He can still hear the other boys’ laughter in his ears.
He banishes the thought. There will be no more laughter at his expense.
Tonight he will announce his arrival by unveiling his creation. She’ll be put on display for all the world to see. To admire. First, he must move her to the loading bay, then into the back of the van. The casket isn’t heavy – the pale, voluptuous flesh of a month ago is gone, transformed by the mummification process into a dark, leathery hide stretched taut over her bones. Her pretty, plump cheeks are now hollow and her fat fingers have turned into claws. She’s as light as a feather.
He smiles. He hisses, pressing the two tips of his bifurcated tongue against his bottom teeth.
The journey to immortality has begun.
It’s just a matter of sacrificing the right people.
In the right order.
And a certain person last of all.
The Embalmer, book three in Alison Belsham’s Mullins & Sullivan series, is out now, available in paperback, audiobook, and ebook formats. My thanks again to the publisher for my copy.