April 8, 1996
A menacing cloud hangs over the eighth adventure of 19th-century archeologists Amelia Peabody and her husband, Radcliffe Emerson (seen before in The Snake, the Crocodile and the Dog). Unfortunately, the cloud rains suspense only in the book's final quarter, long after the warning of a dire threat has paled. In Cairo, Amelia and Emerson are visited by a mysterious man who shows them a scarab ring and claims that it is the symbol of the High Priest of Queen Tetisheri, whom he has sworn to protect. He offers to lead them to her tomb, thereby passing his "sacred duty" onto Emerson. But after the man acts as if he's poisoned and then vanishes, the couple dismiss his words. They are soon reminded of his visit when a notorious antiquities dealer, whom they liken to a hippopotamus because of his girth, warns them to watch whom they trust. With their preteen son, Ramses, and their ward, Nefret, the family travels to western Thebes in search of Tetisheri's tomb. There, after a series of minor mishaps, Ramses is abducted, requiring Amelia and Emerson to begin what seems a nearly impossible task to get him back. The melodramatic 19th-century writing style studded with Amelia's sly wit makes this series unique to the subgenre of historical mysteries. Major ad/promo.