A country that pays significant homage to its ancient roots, Egypt has all the makings of a chilling thriller novel: antique artifacts, haunting attractions, and a vivid, melting pot of a culture. As these books will show you, Egypt has lived many lives…as have the paranormal beings who live within it (or rather, under it). But there is also plenty of murder and deception from Egypt’s current inhabitants, reminding us just how eternal death can really be.
Whether your book is set in ancient Egypt, contemporary Egypt, or somewhere in between, there’s a place for you to get lost in. Traveling to another era is just one page turn away.
Like most of the Doctor Orient novels, Baron Orgaz brings several eras to life at once: crazy BDSM bars, Nazi cults, Ancient Egypt, and of course, a sprinkling of the 1970s as a whole. Dr. Owen Orient, a psychic investigator, is tasked with investigating a young man’s abrupt disappearance.
But when the missing-person case suddenly turns into a murder case, Dr. Orient seeks the help of his assistant, Sordi, to fend off hostile cops, a gay Nazi psychic vampire biker gang who have set a target on his back, and a raging war in Egypt that takes him from Manhattan’s underground to Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza. Calling it “the adventure of a lifetime” is an understatement – but can Dr. Orient survive it long enough to catch the killer?
A Richard Mariner Nautical Adventure, Blind Reef follows the story of Richard and his wife Robin and their adventure through the Sinai Desert. When Richard and Robin are night-diving at Blind Reef, they discover the crew and passengers from a sunken boat.
They meet Nahom, one of the rescued, and some peculiar behavior indicates to them that he may be human trafficking—but then they find out that he has a twin sister who is currently in the hands of traffickers, and Nahom asks for their help to rescue her. The three embark on a quest to find the lost girl, but must evade Egyptian police, Bedouin smugglers, and militant Islamists to find her and make it out of the desert with their lives.
Countdown in Cairo
Another installment in Noel Hynd’s The Russian Trilogy Series, Countdown in Cairo recounts federal agent Alexandra LaDuca’s investigation of a thought-to-be-dead CIA agent in Egypt. Even though she’s trained well, American Alex knows that traveling the streets of Cairo is dangerous, and she soon discovers that you can train all you want, but nothing will prepare you for confronting your worst fears head-on.
Can her wits, skill, and potentially trustworthy partner help her figure out what happened to this agent, and why he’s dressing like an Arab and speaking Russian? This fast-paced, contemporary espionage thriller will tell you.
Dead Men's Hearts
A plot that seamlessly weaves ancient Egypt and contemporary Egypt together, Dead Men’s Hearts is an archaeologist's dream. Gideon Oliver and his wife Julie are supposed to be treated to a luxurious cruise up the Nile River when they travel to Egypt for his appearance in a documentary film.
But then an ancient skeleton is discovered in a garbage dump, Gideon discovers a secret hidden among the bones, and a famous Egyptologist is killed—so it’s safe to say that their trip becomes a whole lot less glamorous than they were expecting.
When Gideon takes on an investigation of the situation, he is led through the back alleys and bazaars of Cairo to the ancient tombs of the Valley of the Kings. As the clues begin to fall into place, he begins to realize that killers from the ancient world aren’t so different from those of the modern world.
Love For An Enemy
It’s 1941 wartime Egypt: aka, hardly the time or place for a British submarine commander to fall in love, especially with a woman who’s half-Italian. Alexandria, the Eastern Mediterranean base of the Royal Navy is almost under siege by the Afrika Korps, and overrun with Italian frogmen. With the ever-looming threat of a German breakthrough, can the British submarine commander trust his Italian lover?
The question at hand: who built the Great Pyramids—and why? The man on the case: Ethan Gage, a messy sort of character who wins a mysterious medallion one night in a card game in post-revolutionary Paris and is framed for the murder of a prostitute soon after. Choosing between prison or death, the scrappy American narrowly escapes France and chooses to assist Napoleon Bonaparte on his mission to conquer Egypt instead.
With foe on his heels, Gage finds himself in the ancient wonderland that is Egypt, and with the help of a beautiful Macedonian slave, he’ll discover that the mysterious medallion he won at the gaming table may just help them solve the question at hand.
If you’re looking for a James-Bond-type, action-packed spy novel, Scorpion Betrayal is it. Scorpion, a highly skilled American manhunter unaffiliated with any government agency, is assigned to find the killer who murdered the head of Egypt’s State Internal Security in a Cairo café.
But the thing about not working for anyone is that no one is ever honest with you, so Scorpion must keep his wits about him in order to uncover the identity of the nameless, faceless terrorist “Palestinian” and take him down.
Tentyrian Legacy takes “Egyptian Thriller” in a different direction than the rest of the books on our list. Arianna Parker always knew she was different—her telepathic powers forced her parents to send her to a mental institution after all. And then she meets Maximos Vasilliadis, a 2,225 year old Tentyrian vampire who believes she is a descendant of his kind.
Thinking the Tentyrian vampires are just ancient Egyptian folklore, Arianna doesn’t believe him at first. But now it looks like she’s the only one who can save herself, the Tentyrian legacy, and the world from catastrophic destruction. Can she find a way to trust herself and Maximos before time runs out?
A classic piece of literature from the Victorian era, The Beetle is a horrific novel depicting the story of a mysterious ancient Egyptian entity that uses its shape-shifting and hypnosis powers to wreak havoc. The target of its horrifying and relentless terror is British politician Paul Lessingham, as he has committed crimes against the order of the being’s ancient religion. As chaos ensues in London, it’s up to Paul and his friends to stop the beast once and for all.
A God Against the Gods
Allen Drury spins a fascinating story in a diary-like novel where readers get the perspective of several different narrators. The tale chronicles Akhenaten, the King of Egypt, and his relationship with Nefertiti, known as the most beautiful woman in the world bred from birth to be the Pharaoh's devoted lover.
While this story follows the lives of several, readers discover how one man’s love of a god results in a divided royal family, gruesome schemes to win the crown, and religious wars that end up tearing the once glorious empire apart.
The Eye Of Horus
Hired to create displays for a new Egyptian exhibit at a Denver museum, medical illustrator Kate McKinnon comes across the mummy of a young woman who lived 3,300 years ago with broken ribs, a shattered hand, and a man’s skull between her legs.
Initially perplexed, Kate receives some aid from Max Cavanaugh, a radiologist, who uses high-tech images to unravel the mystery. Eventually she discovers a parallel tale of a girl who was born into a nest of vipers in ancient Egypt, and from there finds herself digging deeper into the secrets of ancient Kemet, and learns of a crime so astonishing that even the passing of time cannot tame it.
The Hidden Oasis
The first (but not the last) on our list by Paul Sussman, The Hidden Oasis follows the story of professional rock climber Freya Hannan, who arrives at her sister Alex’s funeral. Alex was a Saharan explorer who supposedly took her own life—but Freya doesn’t believe that.
In her quest to uncover what really happened, she joins forces with Alex’s friend Flin Brodie, an English academic who has dedicated his career to tracking down the lost oasis of Zerzura which supposedly holds a stone with extraordinary powers. Traveling between contemporary Egypt and the horrifying story of the origins of the Hidden Oasis in 2152 BC, Freya and Flin will discover not only what happened to Alex, but also the secret that lies in the heart of the oasis.
The Lost Army of Cambyses
The first in the three-part Yusuf Khalifa series, The Lost Army of Cambyses is a complex, gripping tale about ancient Egypt. In 523 BC, Cambyses, the Persian Pharaoh, doomed an army to death by sending them across the Egyptian desert to destroy the oracle at Siwa. When they became caught in a sandstorm, they didn’t make it out, and were never heard from again.
Several millennia later, a mutilated corpse washes up on the Nile’s banks, a savage murder of an antiques dealer is committed in Cairo, and a British archaeologist is found dead at an ancient acropolis of Saqqara—and Inspector Yusuf Khalifa and Tara Mullray (the archaeologist’s daughter) are suspicious. Though the incidents appear unconnected, the two find themselves following the clues from both the past and the present…but will their desperate search for the truth lead them to the same fate as Cambyses’ long-lost army?
Lana has been fascinated with the stories of ancient Egypt all her life—so of course, when a new ancient Egyptian exhibit comes to the local museum, Lana volunteers to give tours to visitors. She’s been inexplicably drawn to the handsome Prince Nefra and his tragic love story since his exhibit arrived at the museum… so much so that she swears his voice has been calling out to her.
But that’s crazy—he’s been dead for thousands of years! But when a priceless treasure is stolen from the exhibit and Lana is the only witness, she knows it’s up to her to solve the mystery. Who stole from the exhibit? And why is this mummy terrorizing her?
Featured photo: British Library / Unsplash