The question I’m asked most frequently is, “Have you been to Egypt?” The answer is a resounding “Yes!” because that without that trip, I would never have been able to write DEATH ON TOUR.
In point of fact, the tour I took was exactly like the one in the book, minus the murder (whew!) and the good-looking single guy (sigh). Like my main character Jocelyn Shore, I’d always wanted to see Egypt and in March of 2007, I finally got my wish. By that time, I’d traveled quite a bit and had long since progressed beyond guided tours, but for Egypt I wanted the safety, comfort, and convenience (three of my very favorite things) that only a tour could provide. And, unlike Jocelyn, I was fortunate enough to find my fellow travelers to be interesting, kind, and fun.
Egypt was far beyond my wildest expectations. After a grueling flight with a dicey connection through Frankfurt, I arrived tired and wanting to see nothing more than the inside of my hotel room. On the very modern eight lane highway leading from the airport into Cairo, riding behind a very large driver wearing a brown wool houndstooth coat, I suddenly sat up, completely mesmerized. In the right hand lane, a donkey cart plodded doggedly along, completely unfazed by the speeding vehicles. Driver, donkey, cart and all could have been transported back a hundred years or a thousand and would have looked completely at home. I knew right then that contrary to my expectation I was going to find modern day Egypt just as fascinating as the ancient monuments I had come to see.
Our hotel in Cairo was the famous Mena House, the same hotel in which Agatha Christie stayed during her visit to Egypt. (Oh sure, a few other people stayed as well – Winston Churchill, King Farouk of Egypt, President Roosevelt – but Agatha Christie!) We could see the great pyramid from our balcony, we dined in the magnificent Al Rubayat restaurant, and on my way back to my room through the lush but dark gardens where palm trees gently whispered in the breeze and men armed with machine guns guarded the gates, the first whisper of intrigue and mystery crossed my mind. Jocelyn Shore had not yet been born, but the first wisp of shadow that would later become Mohammad the burly WorldPal representative was born of a combination of nerves and a vision of our sweating taxi driver. Jocelyn would come later.