Elizabeth Peters brings back beloved Egyptologist and amateur sleuth Amelia Peabody in an exciting tale set amid the ancient temples and simmering religious tensions of Palestine on the eve of World War I.
August 1910. Amelia Peabody and her husband, Emerson, are relaxing at home in Kent, enjoying the tranquil beauty of summer. But adventure soon beckons when they are persuaded to follow would-be archaeologist Major George Morley on an expedition to Palestine. Searching for the vanished treasures of the Temple in Jerusalem, Morley is determined to unearth the legendary Ark of the Covenant.
The skeptical Emerson wants no part of the scheme, until a request from the War Office and Buckingham Palace persuades him to reconsider. The Germans are increasing their influence in Palestine and British intelligence insists that Morley is an agent of the Kaiser, sent to stir up trouble in this politically volatile land. Emerson can't believe that the seemingly inept Morley is a German spy, but could he be mistaken?
Determined to prevent a catastrophically unprofessional excavation that could destroy priceless historical finds as well as cause an armed protest by infuriated Christians, Jews, and Muslims who view the Temple Mount, also known as the Dome of the Rock, as sacred, Amelia, Emerson, and company head to Palestine. Though it is not to her beloved Egypt, the trip to Jerusalem will also reunite her with her handsome and headstrong son, Ramses, working on a dig at Samaria, north of the holy city.
Before Ramses can meet his parents, however, he is distracted by an unusual party of travelers who have arrived in Samaria, including a German woman archaeologist and a mysterious man of unknown nationality and past. Unfortunately, Ramses's insatiable curiosity and his knack for trouble lead him to a startling discovery: information he must pass on to his parents in Jerusalem, if he can get there alive.