As the Emerson's near Egypt Amelia has a dark foreboding... somewhere in the teeming streets of Cairo or the dusty dunes of the desert, the Master Criminal is awaiting their return. But due Ramses being Ramses, they have the firman for Dahshoor, and where Ramses is concerned it's best not to ask, he might never shut his mouth again. Once settled into their hotel they encounter that despicable Kalenischeff, conspirator with the Master Criminal, who seems to have a new target besides antiquities, the young Miss Debenham. Trying to ignore this despicable human, the Emerson's set out to view the pyramids under the light of a full moon. But an attempted kidnapping of Ramses, who is rescued by the opium addict going by the name of Nemo, spoils the night, though Mr. Nemo, despite his baser urges seems fit to be Ramses new bodyguard and he's hired on the spot. The next day as they prepare to leave Kalenischeff is found dead in Miss Debenham's room, with the lady in question missing. Amelia sees the hand of the Master Criminal, not that of a scorned lover. But to her beloved pyramids she goes, parasol in hand, there's always another day to foil that most devious of men.
But at their site things do not go according to plans. a Miss Marshall is found wandering the desert, of course it's really Miss Debenham in disguise, but Amelia is willing to help her for the time being. Then a Ronald Fraser, the cousin and supposed fiance of Miss Debenham arrives. And a man with the name of Nemo is never who he claims to be. Also Amelia appears to be constantly in the thoughts of the Master Criminal, sending her presents. Plus with all the people coming and going could Amelia have laid eyes on the Master Criminal more than once? He is more than a master of crime, as he is also one of disguise. And could his obsession with Amelia be more than revenge? With pyramids and plots and kidnappings, can Amelia solve the murder, help a young girl in her romantic entanglements and save herself?
I loved this Amelia Peabody adventure. Despite having kidnapping cliches and people in disguise she's somehow able to rise above it all for a rollicking good time. I loved the Dickensian overtones with Mr. Nemo, the opium addict. But more than that, I loved the Master Criminal. I was worried that his Moriarty to Amelia's Holmes, would not match wits with her. But I was wrong, cunning, devious and everywhere. His machinations on Amelia are truly dastardly, and while Amelia can't see the end goal, her jealous husband does. Ramses is still as precocious and freakishly intelligent, now with a slight fascination with the interactions between men and women... just a little creepy that, but he is an advanced specimen of child genius. I would write more, but really, I have to pick up book five immediately, just the time it's taken me to write this review means I have been too long away from the Emerson Clan.