Sprightly Maltese Falconesque skulduggery with Richard the Lionhearted's sword at stake, and replete with enough Eastern Mediterranean seasoning for an entire chain of Shish Kebabbies. Pilot and free-lance smuggler Roy Case -- with a dozen cases of champagne as cargo -- is on his way to Beirut to greet his recently paroled RAF mate Ken Cavitt. Once grounded in Nicosia with an impounded aircraft, the Kroeger Royale '66 turns out to be undiluted stuff -- grease guns -- attracting a number of non-teetotaling parties. Then the intrigue becomes fuller-bodied with the likelihood that the grave-robbing medieval archaeologist Prof. Spohr actually unearthed in Israel a million-dollar sharp-edged relic of the Crusades. . .and the ambitious Eleanor Travis of the Met's antiquities dept., Spohr's own daughter Mitzi, and several Middle Eastern entrepreneur heavies. . .et voila. A superior line of country -- full of reverses and betrayals.