London detective Thomas Pitt is investigating the murder of a junior diplomat by a notorious Egyptian woman and her lover, a senior Cabinet minister involved in negotiating the conflict between Egypt''s cotton growers and England''s textile industry. Lovat, the diplomat, once served in Egypt, and to unravel the mystery of his death, Pitt travels to Alexandria, where he finds that the beautiful Ayesha Zakhari is not who she appears to be--and that Lovat''s murder may be tied to an old crime which, if exposed, could set the Middle East aflame. While Pitt is in Egypt, his wife, Charlotte, occupies herself with a more mundane matter--the disappearance of a valet whose sister is a friend of the Pitt''s housemaid. It''s not long before the reader realizes the connection between the two crimes; meanwhile, Perry layers this smoothly plotted mystery with a fascinating history of Egypt in the days of the British Empire and the religious and economic tensions whose repercussions still resonate more than a century later. Perry, the author of two Victorian-era series (the other stars investigator William Monk), does her usual fine job of bringing the colorful time period alive, helped along by the details of domestic life provided by her protagonists'' wives, interesting and accomplished women who have lately played all but equal roles in solving their husbands'' cases. --Jane Adams
Thomas Pitt, mainstay of Her Majesty’s Special Branch, is summoned to Connaught Square mansion, where the body of a junior diplomat lies huddled in a wheelbarrow. Nearby stands the tenant of the house, the beautiful, notorious Egyptian woman Ayesha Zakhari, who falls under the shadow of suspicion. Pitt’s orders are to protect—at all costs—the good name of the third person in the garden: senior cabinet minister Saville Ryerson. The distinguished public servant, whispered to be Ayesha’s lover, insists that she is as innocent as Pitt himself. Pitt’s journey to uncover the truth takes him from Egyptian cotton fields to the insidious London slum called Seven Dials—and ultimately to a packed London courtroom in which shocking secrets will at last be revealed.
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