Two Edwardian sleuths search for a missing member of a star-crossed archaeological expedition.
What begins as just another day for Veronica Speedwell and her colleague in crime solving, the Hon. Revelstoke “Stoker” Templeton-Vane—she’s unpacking a crate of male fertility icons for their noble patron’s museum while he’s rehabilitating a badly mounted duckbill platypus—ends when they’re summoned to the sickbed of Sir Hugo Montgomerie, head of Scotland Yard’s Special Branch. John de Morgan, lately photographer for Sir Leicester Tiverton’s dig in Egypt, is missing, and so is a royal diadem from Tiverton’s discovery of the Princess Ankheset’s partial tomb. The princess’s sarcophagus came complete with a curse, which might help explain why the director of the expedition died and de Morgan, who along with his wife was traced as far as Dover, disappeared along with the diadem; even his room seemed to vanish, or at least completely change its appearance. Sir Hugo warns that when the press gets hold of the story, Stoker’s name and an old scandal of betrayal and duplicity will come to light. Worse yet, he may also be a suspect in the disappearance. Sir Hugo advises Stoker to vanish himself for a while, but though Stoker is many things—scientist, explorer, natural historian, naval surgeon—he’s not a coward. And Veronica, whose semilegitimate but unacknowledged connection to the royal family might cause a ruckus, too, stands resolutely by his side as the painful truth about his past emerges along with a conflagration in Dover, sightings of the jackal-headed god Anubis in London, an old rivalry with new implications, and a lighter-than-air race/chase. But even a trip to the London underground rivers doesn’t faze Stoker and the intrepid, rule-breaking, secretly admiring Veronica in a partnership in which “missish” behavior has no place.
The third adventure for the attractively eccentric duo is a clever and witty follow-up to A Perilous Undertaking (2017).