The small group gathered at Lord Meren's country house to celebrate his homecoming is soon to become yet smaller. Beautiful Anhai, Meren's cousin-in-law, falls victim to murder - an act of violence as inscrutable as the sphinx. True, she had myriad lovers and a scorpion tongue, but why was her body arranged so meticulously, as if for sleep? The most dreadful possibility is that the crime has to do with Lord Meren's awesome undercover mission for the pharaoh, for which his feast of rejoicing is in part a cover. This mission cannot, must not, fail. Ruthlessly stripping bare the deepest secrets of the nest of cobras who are his nearest relatives, Meren finds the thread that leads to the truth and the unmasking of a shocking crime in the court of the living god.
Poor Lord Meren. After the rigors of his last appearance (Murder at the God's Gate), he is expecting a quiet rest in his provincial home, far from the intrigues of the Egyptian court where he is confidant and advisor to the boy-king Tutankhamen. Left at the court is his adopted son, Kysen, charged with overseeing plans for secretly transporting the bodies of the Pharaoh's predecessors from their desecrated tombs to the new ones being secretly constructed. But Meren's sister has invited the relatives to celebrate his homecoming, endangering the covert operation. Complicating matters further is the rancor among Meren's relatives, each of whom dislikes another for past actions. Most viperish is his cousin Sennefer's wife, Anhai, who wants a divorce and seems to make even the most agreeable people angry. When her body is found after the feast, Meren and Kysen must investigate her murder while keeping a close eye on the tomb builders. Their job is made more treacherous by the arrival of the Pharaoh, who wants to take part in the investigation, and by the persistent snooping of Meren's daughter, Bener, who also wants to help. As Robinson deftly juggles ancient Egyptian political intrigue and a riveting mystery, she proves again her mastery of the historical whodunit.