Not since Treasure (1988), when Dirk Pitt discovered Cleopatra's barge in Texas (or was it on the Mississippi Delta?), has Cussler come up with so far-fetched a story as this herein, the tenth Pitt novel. The plot begins with a Confederate ironclad, the Texas, outrunning a Union blockade while carrying on board not only the South's treasury but also the North's kidnapped president. Then, in 1931, world-famed aviatrix Kitty Mannock (an Amelia Earhart clone) vanishes on a flight over the Sahara, her plane or body never seen again. Then comes Dirk Pitt's 1996 search through the Nile bottom (via image-making computerized sonar) for the lost barge of a pharaoh dead some 2500 years. Dirk locates the barge under many meters of silt; but before he can even make the Egyptian authorities aware of the find, he's reassigned by the National Underwater and Marine Agency to investigate the source of poisons that are killing coral and creating a red tide on such a massive scale that the world's oxygen supply will soon shrink to an unlivable level if the horror can't be reversed. Dirk rescues from assassination and falls for beautiful Eva Rojas of the World Health Organization, who is in Africa to find the source of the fatal plague now turning thousands of natives into bands of frenzied cannibals who'll eat anything human and are fearless of gunfire. Whence this malignancy? As Pitt discovers, the country of Mall--backed by a ruthless French industrialist--is in the solar nuclear waste disposal business, but the bad guys have poisoned the water table with their inept methods and befouling of the Niger. How does this tie in with Kitty Mannock's desert crash and her discovery of the Texas buried in the Sahara sands? And whose well-preserved, noble-featured body does Pitt find seated in a rocking chair in the ironclad? His initials are A.L.... For the faithful.