Review of Barnabas Tew and The Case Of The Missing Scarab by Columbkill Noonan

Barnabas Tew is a private detective struggling to survive in his trade in Victorian London. Fearing that he is not as clever as he had hoped to be, he is plagued by a lack of confidence brought on in no small part by his failure to prevent the untimely deaths of several of his clients. 

Matters only get worse when Anubis, the Egyptian God of the Dead, is referred to Barnabas by a former client (who perished in a terribly unfortunate incident which was almost certainly not Barnabas’ fault). Anubis sends for Barnabas (in a most uncivilized manner) and tells him that the scarab beetle in charge of rolling the sun across the sky every day has been kidnapped, and perhaps dismembered entirely. 

The Land of the Dead is in chaos, which will soon spill over into the Land of the Living if Barnabas – together with his trusty assistant, Wilfred – cannot set matters to right. Pulled from his predictable (if unremarkable) life in Marylebone, Barnabas must match his wits against the capricious and dangerous Egyptian gods in order to unravel the mystery of the missing beetle and thereby save the world.

Available on Amazon and through Kindle Unlimited.

I want to be able to DNF a book so badly! I wish I could just say aaahhhhh…. I’m done and be done with it. But so far I can’t. This one came really close though. In the end I compromised with myself. I skimmed entire sections. I jumped from 35% to 70%, read up to 75% then jumped again to 95% and read till the end.

After all is said and done, I actually don’t think it’s a horrible book. It’s just not a book for me.

The main character, Barnabas isn’t bad at all. He’s a bumbling middle-aged man who decided he’d like to work as a detective after reading Sherlock Holmes novels at a formative time in his life. The book is set (at least in the beginning) in Geogian England and opens with Barnabas and his assistant, Wilfred bemoaning their less than illustrious professional track record. We get a brief insight into both Barnabs and Wilfred as they interact with each other and their landlady, Mrs. Crowder, who despite wanting her very late rent is quite embarrassed to be asking for it.

The opening is, in fact, quite compelling and I was looking forward to spending time with these quirky characters. Then they’re killed and dragged off to the mythical Egyptian underworld to be put to use by Anubis, the King of the dead. Yes. Just like that. Out of the blue. Totally unexpected and never hinted at in the blurb. So, by chapter three, the reader is required to get their head around the fact that Barnabas and Wiffred are actually not alive but will be trying to solve the mystery of the missing scarab beetle, Khepre, in the Egyptian underworld.

Again, I was okay with this new ‘reality’ as I was very much interested in seeing how the Egyptian mythology would intertwine with the mystery. However, other than the use of a few legends and mention of mythical characters, the story essentially revolves around Barnabas and Wilfred bungling their way from one misstep to the next. I mean I skipped the second third of the story yet was not lost when I picked it back up. The characters were pretty much doing the same things and no real headway had been made on the mystery. I wasn’t even particularly surprised by the “big reveal” in the end as that was the only character I’d noticed any suspicion around.

However, I still do think the concept of the setting is interesting and I would have liked to see it played up more. (Perhaps it was in the sections I left out). I also found the author’s writing style quite engrossing. It’s descriptive in a way that does indeed pull the reader into the story and helps to build up the action. It was the actual action that I didn’t care for.

Overall, I don’t think it’s fair to give this story less than 3 espresso shots as there are some very enjoyable elements and many others would probably take to the tale. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

7 thoughts on “Review of Barnabas Tew and The Case Of The Missing Scarab by Columbkill Noonan

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  1. It was a DNF hehehe so 1 star. The whole story sounded weird. I think there was a blog Tour and I never agreed. Now I am so happy that I go by the book covers. Hehehe
    Ah well maybe the other books in the series are good

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol. Yes there was a tour! I didn’t sign up either but I was intrigued and I read really good reviews of it too. When I read the low reviews after reading the book they were rated low for similar reasons to mine. Those who liked it did so cuz they really liked the world building. And I did like the way the author played with words. Her style in a different story would have been great for me. 🤷🏻‍♀️😀


  2. I signed up and did a blog tour for another book in this series last year. It was so weird. I read it, skimmed some and gave it a decent review but did not use stars. I basically said that It was well written, there was humour and if that type of story is your thing, you would have loved it. For me, it was not something I enjoyed. I will not be reading any others in this series.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. oh groan. sorry, Nina. yes, i just had a recent book i thought the same, but forced myself to finish. but you are right–knee-jerk is to DNF and not rate. but as i thought about it, did find a few interesting legends, tidbits, quotes. still couldn’t do more than two.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol. I understand. It’s so strange, this is the kind of crazy mystery/ fantasy that I should like but…. that combo mixed with the bumbling lead characters didn’t work for me. Maybe if the sleuths were more polished…?🤷🏻‍♀️


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