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by Paul Sussman

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 2003
ISBN: 0-312-30153-7
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

An ancient Egyptian tomb holds the key to a grisly string of modern-day murders, in an engaging first outing by archaeologist Sussman.

In Egypt, they say, you can’t dig a grave without hitting a pharaoh’s tomb. This has made the dusty and impoverished country famous for two ancient professions: archaeology and antiquities smuggling. A most distinguished representative of the former was Michael Mullray, an English Egyptologist recently found murdered at an excavation in Saqqara, while one of the shadier members of the latter was Abu Nayar, whose mutilated corpse washed up on the banks of the Nile at about the same time. Inspector Yuseuf Khalifa of the Luxor Police is charged with solving the crimes, and he immediately suspects a link between the killings. His suspicions are confirmed when an elderly antiquities dealer in Cairo is murdered in his shop—but not during a burglary. Khalifa is aided in his investigation by Mullray’s daughter Tara, who mentions that the necropolis her father had been excavating was filled with the smell of cigar smoke after her father’s murder. Had this anything to do with the fact that both the shopkeeper’s and Nayar’s corpses were riddled with cigar burns? Khalifa also finds that the Egyptian and British governments are extremely interested in the case—though the representatives of the British embassy and the Egyptian Antiquities Bureau who join the investigation seem more interested in learning how much he knows than in providing him with any information from their files. How political can archaeology be? Let’s just say that, somewhere in the background, the mysterious figure of dreaded Egyptian terrorist Sayf al-Tha’r looms over the case—and over Khalifa himself. And, soon enough, Khalifa and Tara will be investigating a plot against their own lives.

A plot as complex as a hall of mirrors, and almost as gripping as a death threat.