Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 16 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

This book was an enjoyable and fun read. It's full of humour, with a lovely plot and quirky characters.
I loved the pompous anti-hero and laugh out loud  reading it.
I will surely look for other books by this author.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC
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Barnabas Tew is a very good detective in Victorian London. Or at least he tries to be, but he has had a few setbacks in the past. He can't seem to be able to keep his clients or his business alive. That is, until a great chance arises: Anubis, the great Egyptian God of the Underworld, needs him to solve a great mystery. The Scarab God has been kidnapped, and the Egyptian underworld is slowly dying without him. Along with his trusted helper, Wilfred, Barnabas finally gets the chance to show what he's worth. But among so many gods, some of whom are vicious or short-tempered, will he be able to make it?

Barnabas Tew has a very unique, and admittedly attention-grasping concept. The Barnabas-Wilfred duo comes in full contrast to Sherlock Holmes and Watson, creating hilarious circumstances for the pair. There is also a lot of humor in this story, which I highly appreciated. 

However, there seems to be too much dialogue and close to no narration, which at times strongly felt like reading a theatrical or movie script instead of a book. It felt like the plot could have used more editing, as there were a lot of plot parts that just dragged on and on, without any real significance to the story. Most of the plot, actually, had nothing to do with the crime involved and just revolved around the funny dialogue, which became tiring at times.

All in all it was a good concept, in need of more editing, but still amusing.
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Clever, funny, and utterly unique, Barnabas Tew and The Case of the Missing Scarab is a novel to treasure.  This delightful and unconventional mystery places two of England’s most hapless detectives in the Egyptian underworld.  Here, at Anubis’s bequest, Barnabas and Wilfred are tasked with finding Khepre, the god who moves the sun across the sky.   Quintessentially English and naive to a fault, the duo stumble from deity to deity making a nuisance of themselves and falling for more than

a few tricks.  Columbkill Noonan’s skillful wordplay and comical depictions transform a good novel into an exceptional one.  Noonan’s style perfectly captures both the slight stuffiness and well meaning idiocy of Barnabas and Wilfred, as well as the absurdity of the situation they are in.  

While the humor of Barnabas Tew and The Case of the Missing Scarab won’t appeal to all readers, those who enjoy clever wordplay and absurd situations will enjoy this charming mystery.  It is especially fun if you have some knowledge of Egyptian mythology- but that is not a necessity. With its lack of violence and gentle humorous nature, the novel can be enjoyed by younger readers, but it is likely they will need a dictionary on hand to look up more challenging words.

5 / 5

I received a copy of Barnabas Tew and The Case of the Missing Scarab from the publisher and in exchange for an honest review.

— Crittermom
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I received this ARC via Netgalley, in return for an honest review.  This book was different.  The hero, Barnabas Tew, and his assistant, Wilfred, are late Victorian era detectives.  Barnabas wished to be Sherlock Holmes and somehow, it just doesn't work out that way.  Instead, he ends up killed by mummy (yep, Egyptian mummy) and in the Underworld to solve a mystery for Anubis, God of the Dead.  Adventures ensue across the Egyptian mythology.  Barnabas and Wilfred win through in the end and appear headed for further adventures, this time with Odin, in a future book.    This book really was unlike any I've read.  The characters aren't hugely likable or intelligent or sympathetic (Well, I like Wilfred).  If you like books where the main characters tend to, unwittingly, move from one  catastrophe to another and managing to win through, this is the book for you.  They're gentle souls, thrust into a very strange and unforgiving world, trying their best to navigate through.  They do grow on you so you carry on, just to see what happens next.  The author obviously did a great deal of research into Egyptian mythology and it shows throughout the book.
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Quirky, funny and a delightful read. Will definitely look for more from this author. 

Thanks to Goodreads and NetGalley for the copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
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Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab is a comedy of errors following Barnabas and his assistant Wilfred. They are detectives, styling themselves in the manner of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, although they’re not nearly as successful - in fact, they’re actually quite terrible at the job, and several of their clients have died as a result of their botched investigations. When one of their clients passes away after using a magical ankh, Barnabas and Wilfred are recommended to a new client for their work. This client is, surprisingly, Anubis, Egyptian god of the dead. Khepre, the god that rolls the sun across the sky, is missing - and Barnabas is tasked with finding out where he is. Across the underworld Barnabas and Wilfred encounter great and minor gods, multiple adventures, and ultimately the truth of what happened to Khepre, with great risk to themselves.

This book was a bit fun, following Barnabas and Wilfred on their adventures and seeing them interact with different gods and creatures. The mystery itself wasn’t too compelling in my opinion, I didn’t find myself getting invested in the book, but there were moments where the antics of the detectives made me laugh. I have always liked Ancient Egypt, so it was interesting to see a Victorian detective and his assistant navigate that culture, one so different from their own. The settings were very descriptive and interesting, so I liked reading those portions of the text.

That being said, I think the protagonists were so bad at what they did, and so dense, that at times it became quite annoying how obtuse they were, Wilfred less so than Barnabas. I struggled at times to keep on reading the book because I didn’t find it all that compelling, but I think that just happens to be a matter of taste. There were a few mistakes that could’ve been fixed by good editing as well, although I’m not sure if the copy of the book provided to me through Netgalley was a finalized version or before proofs. The ending of the book led right into a sequel, but I don’t think I would find myself picking that up.
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When I first started the book, it got off with a bang, cute idea, kind of Laural and Hardy set up.  Half way into it I realized it was not at all the book I thought It was going to be.  The idea of these two swimming beyond their depth in a very, very strange place was on the surface a GREAT idea and could have been a great book.  It just went on for about 200 pages too long. Well written I have to give it that, but what was a wonderful original idea was just repeated over and over until it just wasn't funny anymore, nor interesting. Didn't even need to read the book to know what was going to happen. Towards the end of the book I have to admit, not only did I skip multiple pages, I just didn't care about the characters anymore they were so dim and gullible, The book could have also benefited from a lot more description of the environment, which was a HUGE part of the story.  From the ending of the book it looks like its set up for a second, I won't be reading it, that is for sure.
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From the blurb, I expected this to be a detective story set in Victorian times. I was looking forward to meeting a new detective and his side-kick and to reading about their adventure looking for ancient Egyptian artefacts. What I got was more of a fantasy.

To be honest, I expected (perhaps naively) the "ancient Egyptian underworld" mentioned in the blurb to have been an elaborate trick set up by a gang of criminals intent on stealing artefacts from the British Museum. I did not expect the heroes actually to be transported to the underworld itself, and, by the sound of it, then to be transported to the Norse underworld for the next book in the series. 

The dialogue is nothing like dialogue written by Victorian authors such as Dickens, Trollope, Collins or Conan Doyle, other than being in English. But that English is extraordinary, having convoluted, archaic and pseudo-archaic phrases and words in addition to more modern language, such as , "Okay", "feminist" which were most unlikely to have been used in everyday conversation in London (nor in the realm of the ancient Egyptian dead) in the late C19. 

The plot moves along at a good pace, the dialogue is frequently amusing and there is a fair bit of information about ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses. But I am left wondering who the author's intended readership is for this series. Possibly, it is aimed at younger teenagers.

Thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for this honest review.
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