Well if its good enough for Dr Phibes. Its good enough for Guy N Smith. So inevitably he tackled the age old Egyptian curse theme.
We begin with Reverend Mason whom has unearthed the tomb containing the mummies Dalukah and her lover Ab-aner. Entombed together forever for their crimes . Mason's guides are the superstitious types who bail out and leave him to salvage the mummies alone. He brings them back to the UK for research. To the disgust of his housekeeper, who claims they stink up the place and are disgusting. So he buries them in his garden.
Flash forward a few years, Emily Brownlow has won a few bob on a spot the ball type thingy, with that she buys a posh house on River View. One of those Hyacinth Bouquet types she would be devastated if the neighbours knew of her wealth, and the fact that husband George has recently become unemployed. George is a little tired with his wifes prattling and strict cleanliness rules,( Coal must be washed, carpets in the sheds etc ) he's more concerned about the crisis in the far east. Over breakfast he tells her enough is enough , he's gonna build himself a bunker in the back garden to protect against nuclear war. It doesn't go down to well.
George digs down and soon finds a strange amulet depicting a double headed snake. He becomes fixated, this is the amulet of SET the glowing snakes eyes urge him to continue his excavations. In the process he is almost buried alive, and is visited by the rotting corpses of Dalukah and Ab-aner. He wakes up screaming from the dream, but slowly but surely he's going round the bend. Quoting curses and ancient egyptian text.
The couples daughter, Sheila is with her boyfriend Adrian down by the river not to far from the house, Adrian is after a bit of Hows your Father, and thinks his luck might be in, but his amorous advances are soon thwarted by a seething army of frogs. Thousands of the buggers. When one died ten took its place, claims the book. They make it safely home, much to a delirious Emily " My lawn is full of frogs and my daughter comes home naked, its disgusting ". George, however knows the truth, its the plagues of SET he proclaims.
Barry, who is George and Emily's son is having problems of his own. Girlfriend Rita is being a problem. Hardly surprising as she's just seen ghostly shadows come to life in her room and re-enact the deaths of the two mummies. A Giant snake also manifest before her and vows he will have vengeance for SET. At this point we the reader are wondering what the hell is going on.
After and earlier run in with a snake down the river, George is back in the garden, a giant Locust pops by which is quickly deposited in a jar. The Centre for Overseas Pest research, don't help out but one solitary Locust is the least of their worries. Rita has gone into a coma after her Ghostly visitation and scalded herself badly in her bathroom ( plague of boils perhaps ?) She later dies. George is frantic, not with the loss, but because she's been cremated SET won't be happy. More head scratching by the reader.
He's right though. Her ghost visits Barry whilst he's locked in his bedroom, he ends up in the nuthouse. Back down in the garden all manner of insects are advancing. George and an agitated Emily are attacked by Grasshoppers, Beetles, Ants, Ladybirds and even dive bombing Bumblebees. Inside the house is clouded with flies. This reminded me of his other book, and personal favourite ABOMINATION. Anyway moving on.
George isn't phased by all this. His bunker is now like a pyramid below the ground. Complete with altar for the sacred amulet. But by this part of the novel his rants about Egypt, SET and Curses is coming a little tedious.
Adrian survives an attack of frogs and bugs to visit Sheila. She's been avoiding him for a few days. Turns out she's up the duff. Dad George ain't to pleased, thats the very reason Dalukah and Ab-aner were ran through with swords and mummified all the centuries ago. That stinking bunker/pyramid is going to come into good use after all. Emily the wife by now has basically lost the plot.
Aubrey Houghton from the council turns up one day at the house. Reports of a strange construction has been filed, without planning permission Houghton wants to get to the bottom of things. Nobody is home so he sneaks round back. He discovers the strange mound of soil and the door he ventures below. The strange double headed snake wards him off, as do a few thousand scorpions and spiders. Crawling up his pants leg and round his tackle. He staggers to the surface were a few grasshoppers get in on the act. I was awaiting a grisly demise here, Dr Phibes and Richard Lewis style. Sadly he escapes with just a bleeding shin and a warning never to return. Thats just a little over halfway so with this I decided to give the book a break and come back later. Hopefully, as to be truthful it isn't really kicking on this one.
Barry escapes the the booby hatch, well when I say escapes he just basically walks out. It wasn't even that easy for Michael Myers. Slack security aside his reasons are due to the Ghostly visitation from Rita. Worse of all he now has the plague. Well its called the plague here for Egyptian reasons, but really its gangrene.
When he stumbles home Dad, George puts him down in the tomb and spill yet more mumbo jumbo about SET and prepares him for the next stage, so of he goes back into the house to shave off all his hair. Meanwhile Sheila has got fully engrossed in all this and persuades Adrian to meet her in the park. Delighted he obliges, he's even more grateful when she strips off and gives him a quickie. And with that its off back with him to the tomb as the have to take part in the BODYWATCH, yep, Barry has popped his clogs. Down here Adrian flips out as he sees a huge fly go into Barrys mouth, then as he hears it buzzing around in his belly a huge Spider appears and follows it down the throat and captures it. Now at this point I was really wondering what the hell I was reading. If a bird entered the fray to tackle the spider that would have been the last straw .
Anyway way back in the house Emily is wondering why George is cutting up all her finest linen into strips. Its obvious where thats going. Also she notes how much more buff and masculine he's looking with his newly shaved head, Heck he's even whipped off his eyebrows too.
The end of the novel is upon us. I will tell no more but it all ends in mass hallucination, a stillborn child , evisceration, innards in tupperware bowls, and a huge mushroom cloud. And to be quite honest with you I was glad to bring this tiresome book to a close.
Its a damn shame really as the subject matter could be put to good use. And I for one was expecting him to do things with the various curses and plagues from the Egyptian lore. Sadly after a decent start the novel gets clumsy and uninteresting, and quite a chore at times to read. Not regarded as one of his better books don't think I'll be returning to this in a while. Ive had this book for well over a decade, but never felt the need to read it. Had the NEL version first, but bought the Arrow edition to complete the SET ( see what I did there ) but not his worse book, it certainly can't compare with his gems we all love and cherish.