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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Pharaoh's Forgery: Karina Goes on Vacation by Ellen Butler is the fourth book in the Karina Cardinal Mysteries. Karina Cardinal's life has been exciting or perhaps one would call it chaotic or troublesome. Now, she's decided that it's time to take a break from DC for a girls' trip to Mexico with her sister. Her plans are derailed when Jilly gets injured and can't make the trip. When her boyfriend can't either, Karina decides she doesn't want to take the trip alone so her friend Rodrigo kindly volunteers to keep her company. Nothing in her life is ever simple. Even a trip to Cancun takes a dangerous turn with Karina delivering a package to Mrs. Thundermuffin, but Karina can't do anything halfway and can't resist taking a look at what she's supposed to be handing off. She discovers a mysterious Egyptian death mask which lands her with several problems and spins her vacation from sun and sand to conmen, killers, and kidnappers. Karina turns to her trip mate Rodrigo for assistance in figuring out her latest mystery before they end up in hot water.
This is a fun on-location mystery that blends Egyptian artifacts with the stunning background of Cancun and mixed with the added danger of drug dealers and killers. Ellen Butler delivers a delightful charm to Karina and to the voice of the story by twisting the idea of a vacation with murder, mystery, and Egyptian artifacts. Karina couldn't stop her curiosity and had to see what was inside the package she was meant to deliver, which is a decision that creates a catalyst for her involvement in the mystery. By having the mask, Karina also becomes a target as she strives for answers and shows the root of her investigative side. Humor is woven throughout with the use of a name like Mrs. Thundermuffin and the clever dialogue. The story also has an undercurrent of darkness that is referenced and seen weighing on Karina even as she is looking to push that aside and have fun. A thriller element is lightly drawn throughout the mystery as Karina deals with a break-in, killers chasing her, and seeking evidence. Pharaoh's Forgery is a mystery that has the right blend of action, murder, a stunning location, artifacts, and a disrupted vacation.