After Dan and Amy successfully send Ian and Natalie Kabra clue hunting in Kyrgyzstan and witness the "death" of a rival, they learned the location of their next clue. Egypt.
Cairo is where author Jude Watson picks up the Cahills' story. Amy and Dan's au pair, Nellie, is bargaining for spices in the marketplace, Dan is distracted by King Tut pencil sharpeners and mummy shaped flashlights, and Amy is trying desperately not to lose either person. But what are spices and kitschy souvenirs compared with an ancient Sakhet, the clue that led them to Cairo, in a shop window and an old nemesis nearly killing Dan on page two?
Yes, the action starts immediately and continues right up to the destruction described on the last page. The nonstop action takes them to an Ekaterina stronghold and an alligator infested island on the Nile. There are more museums - to Amy's delight and Dan's chagrin - and even the darkest depths of an ancient tomb. They run into Irina Spasky and Jonah Wizard again and meet an old friend of Grace named Hilary Vale. And the mysterious Madrigals finally make an appearance.
Dan is as funny as ever. When a salesman in a room filled with spangled belly dancing outfits asks, "You are looking for lovely costume?" Dan responds, "Not my color! But thanks!" Later he says they should check Queen Neferfarty's tomb for a clue. Amy is troubled by her inability to judge character. She's been hurt by Ian and Alistair and wonders if she'll ever stop being taken in and used by selfish people who act friendly.
Characters are beginning to grow and change too. Nellie is becoming more adept at tracking Cahills, namely Amy and Dan. Saladin enjoys more than red snapper. (Hummus anyone?) Irina Spasky has ... wait for it ... feelings?!? And tragedy in her past? (Oh sorry, not everyone is growing. Jonah Wizard, frustrated that he's unknown in northern Africa, comments in an international airport, "They don't know that I'm da bomb?" If anything he shows he's even whinier than we all originally thought.)
Amy and Dan are changing too. They had been told to trust no one. Now they are beginning to wonder, does that include Grace herself? The more the siblings learn about the Cahill clan, the more disgusted they become. What's more, Amy and Dan find themselves resembling their extended family more each day. Lying, cheating, stealing, double-crossing … is this what Grace prepared them to be? Is this who Grace really was?
Eventually Grace shows them her true colors, and leaves no doubt. She communicates with them from beyond the grave. OK, not really. But they do receive a personal letter and plenty of hidden/secret/coded messages that Grace had prepared for them before her death. Grace also shows them that the only way they can possibly win the Cahill quest for The 39 Clues is with her help.
But only if they can find it within themselves to trust her.