Did the Amelia Peabody stories by Elizabeth Peters inspire any of you to study history and become archaeologists? This week, my husband introduced me to the Cairo Jim series by Geoffery Mcskimming. Cairo Jim, as he is called, is an archaeologist and, as he would like to be known, a poet.
Right now I am reading Cairo Jim and the Alabastron of Forgotten Gods. What could an Alabastron possibly be, I wondered. A few pages into the book I got my answer as well as learned a little bit of history. An Alabastron is a type of pottery that was used by the ancient Greeks to store perfumed oils and gets its name from alabaster, the material from which it is made. From the pictures I looked at while researching, I must say that an Alabastron is beautiful.
Cairo Jim’s astounding knowledge of history and expertise in archaeology take him all around the world. From Cairo, where he lives, to Peru, Greece, Zanzibar and many other such places that seem full of beauty, magic and intrigue. However, Cairo Jim owes a lot to two of his constant companions who help him solve all the mysteries he finds himself in the middle of.
They are witty, intelligent, amused by Cairo Jim and look after him. They are Brenda, a camel and Doris a macaw. Brenda is known as the wonder camel because of having the knowledge base of an encyclopaedia; she ate an entire set when she was younger. Doris translates for Cairo Jim all the manuscripts they find as she is an expert in ancient languages. She also quotes extensively from Shakespeare, and if you don’t know your Shakespeare well, you might miss out on some humour.
Arch rival, sworn enemy, treasure hunter and former friend of Jim, Captain Neptune Flannelbottom Bone is a very entertaining villain. He and his raven Desdemona are one step ahead of Jim in the Alabastron of Forgotten Gods. I read with curious delight wondering how Jim and his friends would outsmart the very clever Desdemona and Captain Bones.
Ancient cities, lost civilisations, treasures, unsolved riddles, corpses and dark secrets and so much more are among the chronicles of Cairo Jim. I look forward to reading many more once I am done reading this.
The author Geoffrey Mcskimming did not think that he would be a writer one day, although he loved to write right from his primary school days. He wanted to be a magician or even a ventriloquist and tried to make a career out of acting but says that sunstroke in Egypt might just be behind his becoming a writer.
I am looking forward to finishing reading Cairo Jim and the Alabastron of Forgotten Gods and then going down to my favourite second hand book store in Bangalore, to find some more. For now, I hope that the world recognises that Cairo Jim is as good a poet as he is a mystery solver.
(Yasmine Claire teaches high school students and attempts to write twisted-inside-out fairy tales. Write in to firstname.lastname@example.org)