Violet Harper and her husband Sam are attending the long-anticipated opening of Egypt's new Suez Canal. The canal is the mastermind of the brilliant French engineer, Ferdinand de Lesseps. Fireworks, galas, and canal cruises are all part of the planned festivities at ports along the way. Tensions abound across the various European delegations in attendance. The Prussians, Dutch, French, British, Austrians, and Russians all have political grievances against each other, made worse by internal struggles inside Egypt itself.
All of this animosity is forgotten, though, in the midst of clinking glasses and deafening cheers. That is, until a seemingly innocent Egyptian is found stabbed during an evening of fireworks.
To keep the grisly affair out of the international newspapers, de Lesseps and the Egyptian viceroy, Isma'il Pasha, insist that there be no investigation, but Violet is determined to make a quiet inquiry. Who may have wanted the man dead? Or, rather, who didn't have hatred for the French, whose total mastery of the Suez Canal meant they would be controlling canal shipping for the foreseeable future? Was the man the simple victim of a local criminal? Or is someone conducting a vendetta against the great man de Lesseps himself?
When a delegate's servant is also found murdered, it becomes obvious that there are evil forces among the revelers, who will stop at nothing to keep Violet from discovering the truth.
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New narrator ruins the book