Two days (and 33 pages) after arriving at the Sahara oasis, fifteen-year-old Sandy (Cooper, his geologist father and their prospector guide find the object of their search, the giant giraffe etched in black basalt; what doesn't emerge for a long time is the mystery. Old Ahmed the innkeeper's obstructiveness seems first a matter of superstition (the relics are associated with evil spirits), then of self-protection (his treasure is stored in the adjacent tunnels), and it seems plausible that his headstrong daughter Zora is called Nora by her parrot because of a speech block. But no--Zora/Nora is really an American evacuee from the Congo deposited several years back by a plane creash that killed Russ' pilot friend. All very tenuous and not very touching since she was perfectly happy at the caravansary. The abundant data on desert life is more interesting.