1910. Having brought Egypt firmly under her thumb, Amelia Peabody turns her attention to a harder challenge: Palestine, a province of the crumbling, corrupt Ottoman Empire and the Holy Land of three religions.
Hearing that Morley, an English adventurer, has raised money to mount an expedition to search for the vanished treasures of the Temple in Jerusalem, Emerson and Amelia are persuaded to go after him in order to prevent a catastrophically inept excavation and the possibility of armed protest by the infuriated members of all three religions who view the Dome of the Rock as sacred. The War Office is concerned about increasing German influence in Palestine and insists that Morley is secretly working for German intelligence. Emerson doesn’t believe it, but could he be mistaken?
In the meantime, their son Ramses has been working on a dig at Samaria, north of Jerusalem, where he encounters an unusual party of travellers. One is a female German archaeologist, and the other a mysterious man of unknown nationality and unknown past. Ramses’s insatiable curiosity leads him to a startling discovery about the pair. He must now pass the information on to his parents in Jerusalem – but only if he can get there alive…
Review From Publishers Weekly
Set in 1910, the delightful 19th Amelia Peabody novel from bestseller Peters (after Tomb of the Golden Bird) takes Amelia and her husband, Emerson, to Palestine, where an English adventurer, George Morley, is planning to excavate Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in search of the Ark of the Covenant. Gen. David Spencer, the director of Military Operations in London, suspects Morley, an amateur archeologist at best, of spying for the Germans, whose influence has been growing in the Middle East. Spencer wants Egyptologists Amelia and Emerson to stop Morley from undertaking a project sure to offend the three religious groups that consider the temple site holy. Meanwhile, son Ramses embarks on a treacherous journey to convey to his parents important information learned from two travelers he meets while on a dig in Samaria. Once again, MWA Grandmaster Peters uses vivid settings, sharp characterizations, and deft dialogue to transport the reader to another time and place. (Apr.)
Review From Booklist
Peters, named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1998, writes wildly popular historical mysteries about British archaeologist Amelia Peabody, who is pulled into adventures by her well-muscled (this is mentioned quite a bit) Egyptologist husband and their wayfaring son, Ramses, an Egyptian grammarian who is forever being kidnapped, pursued, or lost in tombs. Since Peters is writing today, it’s difficult to tell if her overblown style (she really does say things like “muscles rippled across the breadth of his chest”) is a nod to the period (around the turn of the last century), her own send-up of romance novels, or her baroque style. What is unfortunate is that Peters, who has a doctorate in Egyptology from the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, doesn’t do more to give readers the benefit of her broad background, other than to have the couple constantly going to Egypt on various quests that remain at the level of Raiders of the Lost Ark simplicity. In the latest Peters, the year is 1910, Ramses has disappeared yet again on a dig, and a mysterious adventurer who might be a German spy invites the Emersons (Amelia goes with) to Jerusalem on a hunt for the Ark of the Covenant. The novel moves between Amelia’s first-person narration and Ramses’ point of view (undercutting suspense over his fate). Peters’ fans, of course, find plenty to enjoy from the characters alone. This one’s for them. –Connie Fletcher