Thirteen-year-old Sam Force’s boring summer in Cairo turns action-packed when his uncle disappears, leaving him to piece together the clues and rescue him before it is too late.
Sam spends the school year at boarding school in Boston and dreads his summers, sifting through ancient pottery shards with his Egyptologist uncle. But instead of finding his whiskered and distracted uncle waiting at the airport, the white American boy is met by the police. The authorities are not the only ones interested in the missing scientist. Quick thinking and a little breaking and entering allow Sam to stay one step ahead of his pursuers. But to succeed, Sam will need to hike through rat-infested sewers, crawl through a collapsing tunnel, and escape a speeding box truck. Other than half-Egyptian, half-English Mary, also 13, and her Egyptian minder, Bassem, Sam is alone. Nonstop action and the richly detailed setting are not enough to overcome the overly familiar premise and loosely woven mystery. Sam’s ability to elude his would-be captors and discover obscure clues feels false. The revelation of the hidden artifact at the center of the mystery as well as the secret about his family is equally forced and familiar.
A dusty plot that is never fully unearthed. (Adventure. 9-13)