This mystery combines two of my great loves– the 1920s and Egypt. American Jane Wunderly accompanies her wealthy Aunt Millie on a trip to Cairo. Aunt Millie is a trial and is thrilled that she now has access to quality liquor rather than the bathtub rotgut produced in America. They’ve settled at the Mena House and soon meet their fellow hotel guests. Included in the cast of characters is Colonel Stainton and his prickly, but beautiful, daughter, Anna, and newlyweds, Charlie and Deanna. A handsome banker named Redvers soon has his eye on Jane, and filling out the cast is the slightly oily and mysterious Amon.
Jane isn’t interested in romance despite attention from Redvers and Amon. A widow whose own marriage proved not to be the fairy tale she had believed it would be, Jane will entertain a mild flirtation, but nothing more. She is a single, independent woman trying to enjoy a trip abroad.
Murder disrupts Jane’s plans when she finds Anna murdered in her hotel room. The local police believe Jane may have played a part in Anna’s demise, and she is now confined to the hotel. Unable to tour the much-anticipated pyramids, Jane vows to clear her name. As she picks away at Anna’s life, she discovers that no one is who they say they are. It appears everyone has a secret, including dear old Aunt Millie.
Redvers, handsome and roguish, becomes the unofficial aide due camp in Jane’s investigation. She’s decided to trust her gut when it comes to Redvers, and her gut says he’s trustworthy even if he’s lying about being a banker. Soon, another body is found and the heat inside the Mena House matches the broiling temperatures of Egypt. With threats against her own life around every corner, Jane needs to find the killer before they find success in checking her out of the Mena House permanently.
With hints of Agatha Christie mixed with a dash of Elizabeth Peters, this was a roaring success. Jane is determined and fearless, yet not lacking in common sense like so many amateur sleuths. She has a past and is no shrinking violet. Even though it is set in the 1920s, Neubauer has not tried to make Jane a flapper. As Jane herself admits, she is too old to have learned flapper speak. The author has managed to create a thoroughly believable main character.
I’m eagerly waiting (and hoping) there is another book planned with Jane Wunderly. I recommend this mystery to fans of Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear and the Maggie Hope series by Susan Elia MacNeal.