A Tutankhamen-era mystery loosely inspired by Agatha Christie's Death Comes as the End (now, incredibly, celebrating its 50th birthday) starts with the discovery of an extra body in the embalming shelter. Hormin, the vizier's contentious scribe of records and tithes, was well-hated by his wife Selket, his slow-speaking son Imsety (who managed the family farm with no hope his father would ever turn it over to him), and his sly younger son Djaper, an apprentice whose only use for his father was what he could get out of him. As in Christie, there's also another woman in the picture, a main-chance concubine named Beltis who could teach Raymond Chandler's femmes fatales a thing or two. Detective honors are shared by Meren, counselor to the young Pharaoh, and Meren's adopted son Kyser, who turn out to have a stake of their own in the case. First-novelist Robinson's modern sensibility shines through the period trappings in the particularly repellent (and contemporary- seeming) crime that the murders--yes, there'll be two more--are committed to conceal. First of a promised, and promising, series.