Famously feisty feminist faces Phileas Fogg's feat...but murder threatens to take the wind out of her sails.
In late 1889, reporter Nellie Bly challenges the 80-day global traversal of the illustrious Fogg with a trek of her own. While she plans a book, Nellie also sends regular reports to Joseph Pulitzer's New York World. Egypt particularly enchants her; her traveling companions, less so. Though courtly Herr Von Reich, a Viennese engineer and inventor, is companionable, she clashes with snobbish Lord and Lady Warton. As the quartet explores the crowded streets of Port Said's native bazaar, Von Reich mentions in passing that a recent jihad may have made the precincts dangerous. His warning proves prophetic when they witness the stabbing of a hooded figure fleeing an Egyptian merchant. Nellie, who had noticed the victim earlier that day riding a bicycle, recognizes him on closer inspection as Mr. Cleveland, a fellow passenger on the Victoria. But her companions think she's delusional and advise staying out of the matter. Undeterred, Nellie investigates and learns that Mr. Cleveland has not returned to the ship. Confirming her suspicions is only the first phase in a twisty adventure that takes her through Hong Kong and Japan to California and involves an imperious sheikh, Sarah Bernhardt and an annoying clutch of magicians.
A jaunty roman à clef studded with footnotes and vintage photographs and drawings. Bly's second caper (The Alchemy of Murder, 2010) breezily avoids a sophomore slump.