DART Review: The Masks of Nyarlathotep: Part 3

Me and the Sphinx

This part was my overall favorite because of the setting. I went to Egypt last year after listening to another Dark Adventure Radio Theatre, Imprisoned with the Pharoahs, and because I couldn’t resist the opportunity to stand between the paws of the Sphinx. I was delighted to hear the adventurers of this story play out in some of the same places I’d been to.


Insurance agent Cecil Watson is amazed to see camels in Cairo.

After the events at the end of Part 2, Cecil, Hazel, et al are traveling incognito. They’re staying under the name of Rockefeller at Shepheard’s Hotel, since they’re in the Rockefellers’ suite (the family has kindly lent it to Victoria while wintering elsewhere).

The group’s primary goal at this point is to find out what really happened to the missing Carlyle Expedition and how it relates to whatever all these cults around the world are planning. Before they follow their separate lines of investigation around the city, Zeke proposes a rule to his companions, to help them guard themselves against the vengeful Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh:

Postcard from Cairo

“Never go anywhere alone.”

It seems like I’ve heard that somewhere before.

Among the notes and clippings in Jackson Elias’s briefcase is a letter from a Frenchman named Warren Besart, sent to Roger Carlyle and offering to put him in touch with a man named Faraz Najjar. While Cecil and Zeke try to track Najjar down, Victoria and Hazel visit the editor of the Cairo Bulletin.

Props: Map of the World

The two men do locate Najjar and learn that he provided ancient objects that actually belonged to the Black Pharaoh, including a map of his burial place, and fell afoul of the Brotherhood because of it. Zeke and Cecil are subsequently attacked in the streets–and one of them seriously injured.

The newspaper editor provides the women with more information about the Carlyle Expedition, along with an intriguing hint about why photographs of its members were strictly prohibited in the weeks before they went off to Kenya. He also mentions that there’s another Penhew Foundation funded expedition working in Egypt right now; these people, led by a Dr. Clive, had a newly discovered mummy in its sarcophagus stolen from them at Gizeh and have since moved their dig to Memphis.

The Bent Pyramid

While Cecil is in the hospital, Hazel accompanies Zeke to talk to M. Besart, who equipped the Carlyle Expedition for its work in Egypt. The Frenchman reveals what happened to the Expedition at the Bent Pyramid (an early effort in pyramid building by Khufu / Cheops’ dad).

This part of the story is presented as a flashback, and it’s the listener’s first opportunity to “meet” Roger Carlyle and his party, whom we’ve been hearing so much about: Sir Aubrey Penhew, who had long been interested in the Black Pharaoh, the Expedition’s photographer (and perhaps Roger’s girlfriend) Hypatia Masters, Dr. Houston, Jack Brady, and that mysterious Kenyan woman who guided the Expedition to find what it was looking for, M’weru.

According to Besart, one night all but one of this group went inside the Bent Pyramid and came out “changed”. Sir Aubrey told the others never to speak of what occurred. Soon afterwards, Besart witnessed something so horrific that he’s had to dose himself constantly with hashish to cope with it.

Besart also mentions that he sold the last of his own collection of antiquities, a little black sphinx, to Jackson Elias. Which makes Hazel give it a closer look.

Meanwhile, Victoria and Gupta drive out to Memphis to call on the Clive Expedition there. They aren’t allowed into the well-protected site, but observe enough to rouse their suspicions. Victoria learns that an old spiritualist friend, Agatha Broadmoor, is among Dr. Clive’s party. But what’s a medium doing on an archeological dig?

Victoria has a note sent in to Agatha, and the two ladies meet for tea at the glorious Mena House Hotel, which is right next door to the Pyramids. (It’s where I stayed during my visit to Cairo.)

Mena House Hotel

Agatha is cheerfully garrulous and indiscreet about her reasons for being among the group. She tells Victoria all about it–even what really happened to that stolen mummy. She seems unaware of what’s going on behind it all.

Unfortunately, Agatha’s just as blithely unaware of the reasons why Victoria wants to know what she and her archeological friends are up to and blows our heroes’ cover (to be fair, probably inadvertently). The people in charge of this current nefarious cultish scheme are now aware of their presence in the city and precisely who they are. This leads to an encounter with the Egyptian cult leader, who makes an offer Victoria must refuse… and finally to a chat with the smooth-voiced Nyarlathotep in his latest guise when they visit the Bent Pyramid themselves.

Now that’s what I call a cliffhanger ending!

On to Part 4.


Author: Kathryn L Ramage

Kathryn L. Ramage has a B.A. and M.A. in English lit and has been writing for as long as she can remember. She lives in Maryland with three calico cats named after the Brontë sisters. In addition to being the author of numerous short stories, reviews, essays, and period mystery novellas, she is also the author of a series of fantasy novels set in a dukedom called the Northlands on an alternate Earth whose history has diverged from ours somewhere during the medieval period.