The Camel Driver: A Harry Przewalski Novel
Leonard Krishtalka, author
Arab Courier Attacked by Lions, a world-famous diorama at the Carnegie Museum, is vandalized in the middle of the night—the glass smashed, the belly of the taxidermied camel slit open. Police find bits of flesh and fiber in the sand below. The flesh is from an infant, the fibers from an oiled cloth used to mummify cadavers. The diorama depicts the sudden, ferocious attack by two Barbary lions on a Bedouin courier crossing the Sahara on a dromedary. It was created by a French taxidermist and naturalist for the 1867 Paris World Exposition, where it won the gold medal. The Carnegie hires Harry Przewalski to uncover the macabre history of Arab Courier. Who is the camel driver—his skull, skeleton and skin are mounted under his clothing. Who is the child—why was it sewn into the camel’s belly 150 years ago? Is the vandalism connected to an apparent suicide of a brilliant Carnegie Museum archaeologist? The case immerses Przewalski in the moral dilemmas of sanctioned evil: a lurid trial, sexual betrayal, an unwanted child, and slavery in Cape Town, South Africa in the early 1800s. Fresh graves plundered thirty years apart in Botswana and Tunisia. Hundred-year-old newborns preserved in alcohol in a Paris museum. Skull bones and teeth of a Neanderthal infant from a Belgian cave. And the ugly prejudices about race, peoples, and our place and purpose in Nature. Przewalski discovers what was stolen from the belly of the camel: an archaeological bombshell worth killing for in a murderous race for scientific fame.