I recently read the novel Napoleon's Pyramids by William Dietrich (2007) and enjoyed the hell out of it. Highly recommended!
It's 1798, and American expat Ethan Gage -- one-time assistant to Benjamin Franklin -- is kicking his heels in Paris, earning a bit of pocket change by staging parlor tricks (electrical demonstrations) for the well-to-do, but mostly getting by via gambling. One night at the tables he wins a strange medallion, said to be of ancient Egyptian origin and owned at one time by Cogliostro, from a down-on-his-luck army officer. The officer claims to have picked it up at a monastery while on campaign in northern Italy the previous year.
Before you know it, the comely prostitute our hero has engaged for the evening is brutally murdered and a heretical sect of Freemasons is hunting him down for the medallion -- which they'll do anything to get (to include framing him for the crime). Gage needs to get out of France ASAP, so he takes his journalist friend's suggestion and applies to join the scientific savants who will accompany the young general Bonaparte on an expedition to Eqypt. (The name "Franklin" is all the introduction he needs with the French savants, even though Gage was really nothing more than a glorified gopher for the celebrated scientist-statesman.) Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire...
Initially I was worried that the book would be too much Da Vinci Code rather than a rock-'em, sock 'em period adventure but this concern was happily dispelled. The descriptions of Napoleon's invasion of Egypt are absolutely first-rate; like G.M. Fraser's Flashman, Gage has a incredible knack for accidentally finding himself in the thick of the action -- to include the Battle of the Pyramids and the Battle of the Nile, which are vividly conjured here. Numerous real-life historical figures make appearances, to include, of course, Napoleon himself (convincingly realized), who is a major player in the story.
There's also much to do about occult societies, ancient religion and the mysteries of the Great Pyramid.
Like the Flashman tales, it's told in the first-person; there's a good deal of humor, too. But there the similarities end... Ethan Gage likes to gamble and carouse with ladies of loose morals, but he's not a cad or a coward. He definitely believes that discretion is the better part of valor -- preferring to stay out of the fray whenever possible -- but when the chips are down he's able to summon qualities of personal bravery and sacrifice (qualities not possessed in any amount by Harry Flashman). He's also a crack shot with a Kentucky long-rifle.
Three sequels have been published to date: The Rosetta Key, The Dakota Cypher, and The Barbary Pirates. I look forward with great relish to diving into them.
NOTE: I can only imagine the chagrin felt by author Dietrich -- an award-winning historian -- when he first read the back cover blurb of the paperback edition. It contains a glaring historical error, stating that the hero finds adventure, mystery and intrigue when he accompanies France's new emperor, Napoleon, to Eqypt. WRONG! In 1798, Napoleon wasn't even First Consul yet. (The imperial crown is still a few years off.) Rest assured, though; Dietrich makes no such errors in the novel itself.