My book review of The Sands of Sakkara by Glenn Meade

All books find their own lover, I found mine ten years ago in an old bookshelf in Zamlalek, Cairo Egypt.


Is it a tale of love and friendship that was tested in a frantic, high-stakes chase to the death? Or should we call it a highly original historical thriller?  The Washington Post describes Glenn Meade’s research as “so extensive yet unobtrusive…that is often easy to forget you’re reading fiction and not history.”  Furthermore, Booklist dubs his book as “fast, sly and slick, his thriller deliver goods-tension, action, plot twists-until the smoke finally clears.”  In my opinion The Sands of Sakkara is a unique high-powered thriller with all the signs of a best –seller: first-class plot, credible characters and dialogue, and exotic settings. I would definitely call it a winner.

Written during the outbreak of the Second World War The Sands of Sakkara tells a story of two childhood best friends Johann Halder (a New Yorker with German roots) and Harry Weaver (a boy who grew up in the servants quarters of Johann’s house) who travel to Egypt as an arranged reunion in 1939 to partake in an archaeological dig near Sakkara. During their excavation they both meet and fall in love with Rachel Stern, their fellow German Egyptologist. However, the outbreak of the war leaves the trio scattered. Hadler joins the Abwher (Germany’s military intelligence) and becomes a spy; Rachel apparently dies when a Turkish cargo sinks in the Mediterranean but is rescued and is sent to a concentration camp, and Weaver finds himself posted back to Egypt to work in the United States Army’s Cairo intelligence office. 

Four years later, Halder, Rachel, and Weaver find themselves pulled back to Egypt where Hadler and Rachel are assigned to carry out a plot that involves the assassination of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who, along with Prime Minister Winston Churchill, are scheduled to arrive in Cairo soon for a strategy meeting. Things get hairier when Weaver is sent to stop them which tests his loyalty to his country,  his love for Rachel Stern, and his friendship with Halder.

 Glenn Meade’s research for the novel is impeccable where you find yourself unable to discern what is factual and what is fictional and as the plot thickens you find yourself truly in for a ride with a very twisted ending.

 In The Sands of Sakkara  you get to read dialogues by real historical characters such as Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Walter Schellenberg, FDR, and Winston Churchill.   Written in third person Meade knows how to blend his copious historical research into fictional frame. Even though we know FDR and Churchill survived Cairo, Meade makes it easy for us to suspend our doubts and go along for the enjoyable (if slightly derivative) ride.

This book kept me up all night. The characters of the novel left me feeling very moved and touched by the circumstances the characters  had to face during the horrors of the war which brought me to tears by the end of the novel. I challenge you to remain unmoved after reading this exceptional book!



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