Scotland Yard's art-crimes specialist Jack Oxby's globe-trotting quest for a legendary FabergÇ egg leads to a pack of homicidal Russians scheming to smuggle biological weapons. Oxby's third outing (The Da Vinci Deception, 1998, etc.) begins in 1916, with the mad monk Rasputin examining a bejeweled, intricately constructed egg that's come from the master jeweler to the Russian court, Peter Carl FabergÇ. Before Rasputin can deliver the egg to Queen Alexandra, however, Prince Yusopov murders him and the egg is stolen by a plucky servant. Several years and many dastardly deeds go by as this priceless object seems to bring calamity and death to numerous owners—until Michael Carson, the ÇmigrÇ son of one of them who now owns a chain of car dealerships, learns from Sasha Akimov, a crony of Carson's missing father Vasily Karsalov, that Karsalov was cheated out of the egg long ago in a poker game by the vile (but preposterously timid) Oleg Deraybin, an ex-KGB thug now head of a Russian crime syndicate that dreams of hiding biological weapons in American cars to be shipped to terrorists around the world. Before Carson can ask where the egg is, Akimov is cut down by sexy female assassin Galina Lysenko, who, with her husband Viktor, are being paid by Deryabin to make sure Deryabin's automobile importing agreement with Carson goes through. Meanwhile, in Europe, Inspector Oxby takes a leave of absence to hunt down the egg for collector Christopher "Kip" Forbes, son of Malcolm. More corpses pile up after Oxby flies to St. Petersburg to enlist the help of an old museum-director friend. Eventually, Oxby's touristic traipse through Russia leads him to Karsalov—and, finally, to New York, where Deryabin has marked Oxby for death. Unconvincing and labored, even when the charming Oxby is on the scene, though with plenty of fun facts about FabergÇ, Russian architecture, and New Jersey auto export lots.
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