More murder and mayhem for the indefatigable Amelia Peabody and her friends and relations.
It’s 1922. Peabody and Emerson, her handsome, clever, duplicitous Egyptologist husband, are excavating at Deir el Medina along with their son Ramses, his wife Nefret and the usual supporting cast when well-known collector Pringle Petherick’s widow Magda arrives and presents Emerson with a solid-gold figure of a king she claims is cursed. The valuable statue soon attracts a rush of other aspiring owners: Magda’s stepchildren, the resourceful Harriet and her brother Adrian, who suffers from war-related mental problems; Emerson’s rich American friend Cyrus Vandergelt; the repellent Sir Malcolm, and a host of other thieves, one of them successful. When Magda disappears, Peabody assumes she’s trying to publicize her authorial career, but not to the extent of leaving her corpse under a bush in the hotel garden. Emerson, who’s determined to solve the murder and return the statue to its rightful owner, is joined by his mysterious brother Sethos and Ramses’ friend David. The police think Adrian is the killer, but there are many other possibilities, and Peabody is lucky to escape the thicket of interrelated problems with her life before the dénouement.
Peabody’s Victorian rhetoric can go over the top, but her likable family’s fans will find much to enjoy in an adventure less convoluted than usual (The Falcon at the Portal, 1999, etc.), salted with the obligatory tidbits of Egyptology.