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by Anne Perry
Ballantine, February 2003
352 pages
ISBN: 0345440072

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

A junior diplomat, Lovat, is found shot to death in the garden of Ayesha Zakhari, a notorious Egyptian woman. In the garden with her is a senior cabinet minister, Saville Ryerson.

To prevent the cabinet minister from being involved , thus causing a government crisis, Thomas Pitt, now of Her Majesty's Special Branch, is assigned to the case to determine the guilt of Zakhari and Ryerson's involvement. Pitt must journey to Egypt to learn more about Zakhari and her possible involvement in the conflict between the British cotton industry and the Egyptian cotton growers. He must also inquire into the background of Lovat.

While Pitt is involved in his investigations, his wife, Charlotte, becomes involved in the disappearance of Martin Garvie, the brother of housemaid, Tilda, friend of Gracie, the Pitt's housemaid. Martin is valet to Stephen Garrick. Charlotte uncovers a connection between Lovat and Garrick who were in Egypt together, and reveals a deep secret buried in their past which ,if revealed, would threaten the stability of the relations between the British and Egypt.

This intricately woven mystery is the latest in the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series. While there are references to events occurring in previous books which would be more meaningful if the reader had read them, that does not detract from the enjoyment of this volume. It is packed with political intrigue and suspense, and with an intriguing history of Egypt during the days of the British Empire with its religious and economic tensions. The author has successfully evoked the spirit of the people and the times of Victorian England, especially with excellent characterizations of the women involved.

Reviewed by Barbara Buhrer, December 2002

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