Egypt, 1914. The outbreak of war in Europe casts ripples that can be felt even in Cairo. Gareth Owen, Mamur Zapt and Head of the Khedive's Secret Police, is given the unhappy task of rounding up enemy aliens. But in a land where the adoption of foreign nationality is a popular means of avoiding trial by an Egyptian court, determining who counts as a German proves contentious. And then there's the face in the cemetery. A cat cemetery, at that. Who disturbed the mummified remains by placing a human corpse amongst them? Is the villagers' talk of a mysterious Cat Woman mere superstitious nonsense, or something rather sinister? Owen would prefer to leave these matters in other hands. He has a more pressing concern in the shape of missing rifles (in war time) and dubious gun-toting ghaffirs. Villages usually elect the local idiot as their ghaffir or watchman (who else would want to take on the brigands?), so what are these toughs doing here? Not to mention a heavily armed, thumb-sucking girl? The face in the cemetery, though, refuses to go away, and Owen comes to realize that it poses questions that are not just professional but uncomfortably personal.
by Michael Pearce
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