Review: The Return of the Pharaoh by Nicholas Meyer

The Return of the Pharaoh by Nicholas Meyer—nothing elementary about this new Sherlock Holmes adaptation.

The Return of the Pharaoh

by Nicholas Meyer

Published by St. Martin’s Press Minotaur Books

on November 9, 2021

ISBN: 9781250788207

Genre(s): Mystery & Detective

Page length: 272

Available in hardcover, paperback, electronic, and audiobook versions.

In Nicholas Meyer’s The Return of the Pharaoh, Sherlock Holmes returns in an adventure that takes him to Egypt in search of a missing nobleman, a previously undiscovered pharaoh’s tomb, and a conspiracy that threatens his very life.

With his international bestseller, The Seven Per Cent Solution, Nicholas Meyer brought to light a previously unpublished case of Sherlock Holmes that reinvigorated the world’s interest in the first consulting detective. Now, many years later, Meyer is given exclusive access to Dr. Watson’s unpublished journal, wherein he details a previously unknown case.

In 1910, Dr. John Watson travels to Egypt with his wife Juliet. Her tuberculosis has returned and her doctor recommends a stay at a sanitarium in a dry climate. But while his wife undergoes treatment, Dr. Watson bumps into an old friend–Sherlock Holmes, in disguise and on a case. An English Duke with a penchant for egyptology has disappeared, leading to enquiries from his wife and the Home Office.

Holmes has discovered that the missing duke has indeed vanished from his lavish rooms in Cairo and that he was on the trail of a previous undiscovered and unopened tomb. And that he’s only the latest Egyptologist to die or disappear under odd circumstances. With the help of Howard Carter, Holmes and Watson are on the trail of something much bigger, more important, and more sinister than an errant lord.


Sherlock Holmes’ lasting popularity is a rarity among fictional characters. Most fall out of favor within years, not decades. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died in 1930, but his stories about the English detective Sherlock Holmes have lived on. Sherlock Holmes and all his companions, as penned by Doyle, are now in the public domain and as a longtime fan of Holmes and Dr. John Watson, I’ve been looking forward to reading the inevitable adaptations. That’s why I was so keen to read The Return of the Pharaoh by Nicholas Meyer when I discovered it. If, like me, you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan, this novel won’t disappoint.

Just like the original Doyle novels and the brief adventures published in monthly issues of The Strand Magazine from 1891 to 1892, a Sherlock you are sure to recognize fascinates the reader with his keen observations, quick deductions, and encyclopedic recall of the history of crime. In The Return of the Pharaoh, set in 1910 Egypt, an English duke with an interest in Egyptology disappears and his wife engages the intrepid Holmes to find him. Dr. John Watson travels to Egypt with his wife Juliet after her doctor recommends a stay at a sanitarium in a dry climate to treat Juliet’s tuberculosis. By chance, Watson bumps into his old friend Sherlock in Cairo, who is in disguise, traveling under an assumed name. Curiosity pulls Watson into the case when Holmes reveals the duke has vanished from a luxury hotel in Cairo while on the trail of an undiscovered and unopened Pharaoh’s tomb rumored to be filled with gold. Once again Holmes and Watson join forces to investigate a case, soon to discover that there is something going on far more sinister than a missing duke.

The mystery is straightforward, simple, and easy to enjoy. The story follows a similar formula that has worked for millions of readers these past 120-odd years, Holmes arriving at a solution by spotting a clue no one else notices, asking the right questions, or using his encyclopedic knowledge of human nature and similar cases from the past.

This book is very good and if you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan or someone who enjoys classic mysteries, I recommend adding The Return of the Pharaoh by Nicholas Meyer to your reading list. There is nothing elementary about this new Sherlock Holmes adaptation.

I received an advance copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley.

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2 thoughts on “Review: The Return of the Pharaoh by Nicholas Meyer

  1. I enjoyed the original Connan-Doyle stories as a boy, though The Hoxton Creeper gave me nightmares.

    I’ve also enjoyed Anthony Horowitz’s take on the character.

    Your review makes me wonder how many other writers have written about the character.

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