A nameless oilman-collector, called simply the Collector, plots to steal the three choice pieces from the Metropolitan Museum's King Tut exhibit in 1979. Why? To give Sadat leverage on Carter in the upcoming second round of Camp David talks. (The explanation is complicated and implausible.) Whatever the motivation, however, the heist action is intriguing. The Collector has his own private security staff; there's a vast set of interlocking security systems to overcome; and the job must be done in ten days. So chief henchman MacSweeney soon discovers that the varied systems lock into one TV-monitor cable leading to security central in the basement; by blocking the basement toilet he gets his team of ""plumbers"" in to cut a bypass into the circuit and feed in false data so that the midnight monitor doesn't reveal their presence in the exhibit. But all fails when two Dobermans attack. So a second scheme is set up, this time planned by Bernie Stein, an assistant curator, and Dr. Elaine Ross, an NYU professor in institutions, both of whom the Collector bribes into helping him. This job, with MacSweeney's help, is a success during the midday crowds; and the Collector even manages to foist a fake mask onto the Egyptians and keep the real one for his secret gallery of stolen artifacts. . . along with Elaine. With art/museum gossip and Newman's erudite arias on esthetics--solid caper-entertainment for savvy art-lovers.