The game's afoot again in "Pharaoh," Nicholas Meyer's fourth Sherlock Holmes novel, purportedly "from the reminisces of John H. Watson, M.D." Reflecting Meyer's work as a screenwriter ("Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan"), "Pharaoh" moves like a runaway train and, in fact, a runaway train is where the climax occurs. Dr. Watson and Holmes both find themselves in Egypt, tracking down a nobleman who disappeared while attempting to plunder ancient artifacts. Set in 1910, as pyramid fever was taking hold of the world (a minor character in the book, Howard Carter, "discovered" King Tut's tomb in 1922), "Pharaoh" doesn't present clues as deftly as Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle did; you won't be able to solve the mystery. But it's a witty, elegant puzzle that zips from a spice market to the Sphinx to a den of belly-dancing-obsessed thieves.
The Return of the Pharaoh
By Nicholas Meyer.
Publisher: Minotaur, 272 pages, $25.99.