The Emersons are back in Egypt for the 1895-96 season and Amelia has a dark foreboding! The family are working in Dashoor, which de Morgan has conceded to them, probably after some sort of bribery and definitely a form of corruption from young Ramses at the end of the last book.
When they first arrive at Shepheard's hotel they meet the sinister Kalenischeff again, who is escorting the beautiful and unchaperoned young heiress, Miss Debenham around Cairo and creating a scandal. Emerson insists on a quick move to their archaeological site after there is an attempt to abduct Ramses from the Great Pyramid. They offer a job to Ramses's rescuer, the opium addict Nemo, but their plans are delayed when Kalenischeff is found dead in Miss Debenham's hotel room and the lady has disappeared. Amelia immediately blames all these strange events on the enigmatic master criminal, much to Emerson's disgust!
Once at the site, Miss Debenham reappears in the guise of a young Egyptologist "Miss Marshall", Amelia decides to go along with the charade for a while, but the appearance of Ronald Fraser, cousin and supposed fiancé of Miss Debenham reveals the true identity of Nemo and further confusion occurs. As one of her talents is matchmaking, Amelia is determined to help the young lovers but is perturbed by Ramses' fondness for Miss Debenham, which means that Emerson has to have a difficult discussion with his precocious son who insists on taking notes and would like further diagrams! Strange events and odd gifts imply that the Master Criminal is watching the Emersons and Amelia is determined to spot him amongst the many people that she meets, but is his motivation, purely revenge? Emerson doubts it and a kidnapping proves him correct.
This is one of my favourites from earlier in the series, even though (as you'll have already realised and I have already mentioned several times) I do love them all! The murder mystery element takes a back seat to the humour, it's all tongue in cheek and the kidnapping scenes are hilarious - the one liners and Amelia's unintentional quips are great, I found myself sniggering when listening to the CDs in the car! Probably not the best audiobook to have when in public!
Ramses remains horribly precocious and is always a couple of steps ahead of his parents. He remains the most sensible and logical of the family and his loquacity is the mini-version of Amelia, although she of course would refute that accusation! Emerson is still all bluster, but it's sweet how he quickly realises the MC's true intent and wins the day.
Sethos comes into his own with his dastardly plan, all he needs is the twirling moustache! His scenes towards the end of the book show wicked charm, wit, intelligence and a fit physique which make him a serious contender for being more attractive than Emerson! (Even Amelia could be slightly tempted for a moment, but she has her thrilling moment when both men are fighting over her!)
As an aside, it's worth remembering these characters as they do pop up again needing further help from the Emersons in a later story too!