Saturday, May 6, 2023

Covert in Cairo by Kelly Oliver Blog Tour Book Review


Covert in Cairo

by Kelly Oliver

April 24 - May 19, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


1917 Cairo.

Ancient mummies aren’t the only bodies buried in the tombs of Cairo.

The notorious Fredrick Fredricks has lured Fiona to Egypt with a cryptic threat on the Suez Canal.

But when a cheeky French archeologist is murdered, and an undercover British agent goes missing, the threat moves closer to home.

Is the notorious Fredrick Fredricks behind the murders? Or is the plot even more sinister?

Competing excavators, jealous husbands, secret lovers, and belligerent spies are the leading suspects.

As they dig deeper, soon Fiona and Kitty are up to their donkeys in dead bodies.

If they can’t unwind the clues and catch the killer, they might end up sharing a sarcophagus with Nefertiti.

With humor as dry as the Arabian desert, and pacing as fast as a spitting camel, Fiona and Kitty are back in another sparkling adventure, this time in WW1 Egypt.


“Perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and Maisie Dobbs.”

“Tantalizing and riveting with a good dose of humor while keeping the heartbreaking reality of war in the mix.”
The Los Angeles Post

“A clever mix of humor and espionage that will keep you turning the pages and laughing all the way!”
Dianne Freeman, author the Countess of Harleigh mysteries.

“A perfect blend of wit, fun, and intrigue.”
Debra Goldstein, Author of the Sarah Blair Cozy Mysteries

“The perfect wartime spy: Fiona Figg. Smart, sneaky, and full of surprises… A fun whodunit that will keep you turning the pages!”
Cathi Stoler, author of The Murder On The Rocks Mysteries

“Fun, easy-to-read, witty mystery that had me happily turning the pages.”
Melissa’s Bookshelf

“Humor, action, and intrigue. I found myself thoroughly entertained.”
Urban Book Reviews

Covert in Cairo Trailer:

My Review:

This is a fun novel of mystery and intrigue set in WW I Egypt. My favorite aspect of this series is the well developed characters. Clifford is portrayed as a typical clueless British man. Kitty is a daredevil, skilled in all things investigative and always up for an adventure. And our heroine, Fiona, is a capable office person turned spy. She's not always perfect in her work, but she gets the guy, in more ways than one.

The plot contains interesting information about antiquities and the archaeologists who were looking for them. There is also information about German influence to incite Egyptians to expel the British. There was also concern for the Suez Canal, its operation essential to the war effort.

I appreciate Oliver clarifying what figures and events are historical fact and which are fiction. It was fun having figures like Lawrence of Arabia, Gertrude Bell and Howard Carter appear in the narrative. Other characters in the novel are based loosely on actual people. Reading Oliver's Note is like getting a little history lesson.

This is the second novel in a series but reads relatively well on its own. You can read my review of the first one: Chaos at Carnegie Hall.  It would seem more adventures are on the horizon for Fiona, Kitty and Clifford so I will be watching for the next one featuring them.

 My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Boldwood Books
Publication Date: April 2023
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: Coming Soon
Series: A Fiona Figg & Kitty Lane Mystery, 2 (These are Stand-Alone Mysteries)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

This bloody war had taught me nothing was black and white… except perhaps a strong cup of tea with milk, when you could get it.

My mouth was parched, and my bottom bounced on the hard wooden bench I shared with Captain Clifford Douglas, my glorified chaperone. I glanced over at our carriage companions, Miss Kitty Lane—whom I’d known until a week ago as Eliza Baker—and a stranger who leaned against the wooden armrest, reading.

The Egyptian railway carriages were white wooden trollies. Nothing like the black iron horses back home. Deuced hot, too. The soot flooding in through the window was the same, though. British or Egyptian. It didn’t matter. We all choked on the same smoke.

As the carriage clacked along the tracks through the desert from Alexandria to Cairo, I distracted myself with Annie Pirie’s The Pyramids of Giza. Book in one hand, I held a lavender-scented handkerchief to my nose with the other.

Annie Pirie claimed it was under one of these grand pyramids that she’d met her future husband while they were both laid up with food poisoning. Having nursed soldiers suffering from that very same affliction back at Charing Cross Hospital, I didn’t find anything romantic about the squalls of salmonella.

Still, there was nothing like the vulnerability of the body to move the soul.

Why not fall in love over a bedpan?

After all, I’d met Archie Somersby when he was convalescing with a shot-up arm. He’d asked me to help him write a letter to his mother. So sweet. Writing to his mum.

My cheeks burned. Oh, Archie. Would I ever see him again? Did I want to see him again, now that I knew he was a government-sponsored assassin? When I closed my eyes, I could still smell his citrus cologne mixed with the lingering scent of Kenilworth cigarettes.

I dropped The Pyramids of Giza on the seat next to me and withdrew a fan from my purse. Even with the windows open, it was beastly hot, and the desert seemed to go on forever. Winter in Egypt was a far cry from the chilly dampness of London or the snow in New York.

No. I couldn’t allow myself to think of Archie. Dead or alive.

Instead, I looked out of the window.

Oblivious to the carriage’s shaking and clattering, with her legs stretched across the bench seat, Kitty had her nose buried in the latest issue of Vogue fashion magazine. Wearing dark glasses, a flowing pink chiffon skirt dotted with tiny roses, a white blouse with pearl buttons, and an adorable sailor hat, she looked the part of a fashion model herself.

Poppy, the girl’s Pekingese, had a pink ribbon in her topknot that matched her owner’s outfit perfectly. The furry nuisance sprawled across Clifford’s lap, her outstretched paw touching my knee. Only because the animal had rescued me from imprisonment in a loo on my last mission did I indulge her encroachment on my person.

Clifford was another matter. Indulging him often tried my patience. Captain Clifford Douglas had been sent along by the War Office to chaperone us, despite the fact I’d already completed four missions. And Kitty, well, for all I knew, she was an assassin in petticoats.

While engrossed in his hunting magazine and fantasies of killing, at least Clifford was quiet for a change.

“I say!” Clifford looked up from his magazine.

Blast. I knew it was too good to be true.

“Gezira Sporting Club has fox hunts with English hounds.” Clifford beamed. “Do you ladies fancy a hunt?”

My eyes met Kitty’s and we both laughed.

“We’re not in Arabia for sports.” I scolded him. “Hunting.” I gestured from Clifford to Kitty. “Fashion… You’d think we were on holiday instead of…” I glanced over at the stranger in our compartment. “Instead of on business.”

If it hadn’t been for the stranger sharing our compartment, I would have chastised my companions. While I was busy preparing for our mission by studying guidebooks, they were faffing about with pretty dresses, gruesome blood sports, and fussing over a spoiled little dog.

“You can tell our priorities by our reading material.” I held up my book. “Mine is written by a scholar and a lady explorer.” I nodded for emphasis. “She—”

“If you want to get to know a people,” the stranger interrupted, “study their poetry.”

I sat blinking at him. His English was heavily accented, but I didn’t recognize the accent. And yet there was something familiar about his voice.

“You must read Hafez Ibrahim, poet of the Nile.” The stranger opened both his hands in offering. He clasped his hands together in prayer.

“Do I know you, sir?” Clifford dislodged the pipe from his mouth.

There was something uncanny about the man. I too had the uneasy sense of déjà vu.

“You don’t even know yourself,” the stranger scoffed. “If you English can’t make yourselves welcome with arrogant promises of freedom, you resort to armored tanks and Vickers machine guns.” His mustaches quivered.

“Well, I say,” Clifford huffed. “No need to be rude.” He tugged on the bottom of his jacket. Good old reliable Clifford. Quick to defend king and country… and any women within a twenty-mile radius.

“Those hunting hounds were brought here to fulfill your countrymen’s desire to turn every place into their homeland.” When the stranger waved his arms, the loose sleeve of his jacket danced a frenetic jig. “They died from the heat.” His dark eyes flashed. “Let that be a lesson to you.”

“Look here, whoever you are.” Clifford stood up. “This is no way to talk in front of the ladies.”

Good heavens. I hoped Clifford didn’t do something stupid like challenge this fellow to a duel or punch him in the nose.

The carriage swayed and Clifford fell back onto the seat, nearly landing in my lap.

“Now, now.” I patted Clifford’s arm. “The ladies can defend themselves, thank you.”

The stranger held up his book. “Here, you must learn Arabic if you want to do anything but see yourselves reflected in a mirror of your own hubris.” He stood up. “Since Egypt was occupied by the French before the English, you’ll get by passably well with French.” He opened the door to the compartment. “And now, if you’ll excuse me, I, too, have work in Cairo.”

As he crossed the threshold, a folded paper fell out of his book.

I reached down and picked it up. The paper was heavy and thick.

“You dropped something,” I said to the closed door.

The stranger had vanished.

“What is it?” Kitty said.

“I say.” Clifford snatched it from my hands and snapped it open. “Why, it’s a map!”

“Heavens.” I gazed down at it. “Not just any map.” I grabbed it back.

A map of the Suez Canal. Marked with a big black X. 


Excerpt from Covert in Cairo by Kelly Oliver. Copyright 2023 by Kelly Oliver. Reproduced with permission from Kelly Oliver. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Kelly Oliver is the award-winning and bestselling author of three mystery series: the seven-book suspense series, The Jessica James Mysteries; the three-book middle grade kids’ series, Pet Detective Mysteries; and the four-book historical cozy series, The Fiona Figg Mysteries, inspired by those trips to the Green Hills Library.

Currently, Kelly is the Vice President of Sisters in Crime.

When she’s not writing novels, Kelly is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.

To learn more about Kelly and her books, go to:
BookBub - @KellyOliverBook
Instagram - @kellyoliverbook
Twitter - @kellyoliverbook
Facebook - @kellyoliverauthor


Tour Participants:

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I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Partners in Crime Book Tours.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

1 comment:

Wall-to-wall books said...

Thanks for the review. Glad you liked it! :-)