t's nearly two years since her father's death and Ursula Marlow is
embroiled in personal and professional struggles. Her relationship with Lord
Wrotham has cooled since she rejected his marriage proposal and she
continues to fly in the face of society's conventions as to the appropriate
role of a woman in Edwardian England. Now she is besieged on all fronts as
she struggles to succeed as an independent businesswoman, despite financial
difficulties, labor unrest and arson attacks on her mills and factories.
While on a business trip to Egypt, Ursula witnesses a friend's murder in
Cairo's Khan el-Khalili bazaar, and embarks on her own investigation,
convinced the Egyptian police and Scotland Yard are mistaken in assuming the
death was politically motivated.
Days later a young woman dies in a fire in
one of Ursula's factories in England and Ursula returns to discover the
woman was already dead before the fire started. Driven by her need for
justice and the dictates of her conscience, Ursula must rely on her own
powers of detection and a growing interest in cryptography to discover a
possible connection between the deaths, the return of her Bolshevik ex-lover
and disturbing events in the Middle East.