Professor and Amelia Emerson (The Ape Who Guards the Balance, 1999, etc.) are once again in Egypt, this time for the winter season of 1911, accompanied by son Ramses and adopted daughter Nefret. Amelia is busy with the wedding of her niece Lia to David, grandson of the Emersons” late, dearly loved steward Abdullah, who was rumored to possess a cache of fine antiquities. Now, it seems, scarabs (possibly fake) and other objects from that cache are in circulation, and David is rumored to be involved. He and Lia set off on their honeymoon as their friends Jack and Maude Reynolds arrive at the colony. Maude promptly falls in love with Ramses, pursuing him at every turn. Work has finally begun on the project: exploration of the Pyramid at Zawaiet el—Aryan and the Professor’s focus for the season. Nefret, meanwhile, has married the Reynolds’s friend Geoffrey Godwin. Already at the Pyramid there have been several frightening incidents, quickly climaxed by the death of Maude Reynolds. All this is but the beginning of a series of plot zigs and zags interspersed with lengthy domestic detail, rumors of drug dealing and rising nationalism, everything leading to a melodramatic and violent denouement that sheds little light on an ever more muddled story. Well-realized time and place; interesting, lively characters; and incomprehensible plot.