Sir John Appleby usually brings out the best in the ever-droll yet highly uneven Michael Innes--but this slight episode, though a welcome return for the long-absent Sir John himself, is a leisurely, minor frolic almost entirely devoid of mystery. Somewhat bored in retirement, Appleby (in Robin Hood garb) attends a charity-raising fancy-dress fÃªte at Drool Court, the estate of nouveau-tycoon Richard Chitfield--whose daughter's boyfriend has been absolutely forbidden to wear a sheik outfit. Appleby wonders why. And he wonders some more when several of Chitfield's associates--plus a few others--turn up dressed in bedouin style. Could it be that a real sheik is on the premises for a big confab with Chitfield? And could the multiplicity of sheiks be intended as protective cover from Arab terrorists who are after the bona fide sheik? That seems to be the case--especially after one of the fake sheiks is bow-and-arrowed. So Appleby must help the real sheik (an Emir) to escape, which he does with help from a herpetologist and a hot-air balloon. In short: a giddy, overextended little short-story notion, far less satisfying than last year's Lord Mullion's Secret; but the chat is as unabashedly donnish as ever (lots of etymology), and Sir J.'s longtime admirers will find him to be in good, dry, gently sardonic form.