The Ninefold Key
In the year 1669, Lord James Ramsay and his companions journey to Egypt during their Grand Tour. They have learned from an obscure text that great wealth and unimaginable treasures lie buried below the sands. When they do, in fact, stumble upon the tomb of an ancient High Priest, and attempt to take the mummy’s heart scarab, their troubles begin.
In 1754, at the infamous Hellfire Club, Lord Iain Ramsay has run out of luck. He is about to lose his family estate in a game of piquet. His Italian opponent, Lord Bruno, Count Foscarelli, is undoubtedly cheating. But to accuse without proof would assuredly lead to a challenge, one that Ramsay is not sure he could survive.
In 1848, Malcolm Blackfriars saves the life of Ariana Levesque, a recent émigré from France. Their meeting is just another in a series of coincidences that brings together the descendants of the Ramsay and Foscarelli families. Hoping to unravel the mystery surrounding both his heritage and the Heart of Kheperi, Malcolm and Ariana rush to find and decipher clues before the Foscarellis do.
I have to give the author credit for incorporating a wealth of historical details into an intricate, twisting plot. I thought the pacing was slow, however, and the language was often pompous and overblown. My favorite characters, Malcolm’s employer Septimus Quimby, and his friends Jakob Rosenkranz and Boniface Cavendish, were underutilized. This trio would be the basis for a great series.