Fiction's best-known British archeological team—Amelia Peabody, husband Radcliffe Emerson and their antiquity-obsessed brood—are back in Egypt for the winter of 1914. Cairo is buzzing with rumors of an imminent attempt to wrest control of the Suez Canal from the British, and since archeology is an excellent cover for subversive activity, the Emersons are pressed into service hunting down spies and other dastardly villains. Peters's last historical thriller, The Falcon at the Portal, ended with the breakup of a budding romance between Nephret, the Emersons' ward, and Ramses, their son. This latest novel picks up where Falcon left off, though readers need not have read the earlier book to enjoy this one.
Peters, an American, brings her Ph.D. in Egyptology to bear on this and 11 other books in the series. Her cast of stiff-upper-lip Brits, who dare to go out in the noonday sun, mixes hilarity in with the history lesson. (Morrow, $25)