The Peabody series rebounds after the uneven Hippopotamus Pool, but rather than returning to the tone of the pre-Nefret books, it takes off in a new direction. The "children"-- calculating Ramses, gutsy Nefret, and gentle David-- come into their own here, though sixteen-year old Ramses still, at times, seems older than his two comrades combined. Peters allows the readers access to the minds of these three through the device of "Manuscript H," which provides a welcome contrast to Amelia's familiar but none too reliable way of recounting events.
This volume has a smaller cast of characters than some of its predecessors; a handful of familiar faces is balanced by a handful of new ones, but the mystery benefits rather than suffers from this reduced cast. It's a unique case this time, with no pesky journalists needed to lend the events an air of exoticism. The juxaposition of a medium, her delusional client, a five-year-old disappearence and a highly unconventional mummy create a blend of a genuinely interesting plot and the characterization and dialogue at which Peters excels.
Darkness begins to creep into this once-lighthearted (in spite of all the murders) series, as foreshadowed conflict between the three children builds to premonitory images of doom at the novel's end. In other words, proceed directly to The Ape Who Guards the Balance if you want answers... though you may not like what you find.