The Great War has ended, and the army is keen to be demobbed. But Willoughby, the new British High Commissioner in Egypt, has managed to affront the Khedive by refusing to receive rival delegations fueled by rising nationalism. Then, when some Armenians, Copts, and English civil servants are attacked, a state of emergency is declared. Gareth Cadwallader Owen is the Mamur Zapt, the Head of the Khedive's Secret Police. Unlike his British colleagues, Owen works for the Khedive. His is an uncomfortable perch as agitation for political and social restructuring grows. Furthermore, Owen is married to a pasha's daughter, Zeinab, herself straddling a cultural divide. The Khedive has declared a procession: he'll drive around Cairo with his Ministers. Owen, who has spent his career defusing political time bombs, learns the streets have been made dangerous by threats of real bombs. The first order of business is to ward them off. The second is to ensure the safety of an impending major European delegation to the capital. But what does it all have to do with Owen's shiny new motor car'