Harold Robbins’ The Curse

Junius Podrug. Forge, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2714-7

Podrug’s tepid sixth Harold Robbins thriller (after 2009’s The Shroud) feels dated not only because its Egyptian political regime doesn’t reflect the events of early 2011 but also because its protagonist, disgraced art investigator Madison Dupre, too often behaves like an unintelligent, man-hungry heroine from an earlier era. Needing the money, Madison accepts the responsibility of authenticating a legendary scarab known as the Heart of Egypt stolen from Tutankhamen’s tomb, but she gets caught in the cross-fire as several agencies seek the artifact and the power it wields over the citizens of Egypt. The various plot elements, including a curse associated with King Tut’s tomb and a mysterious assassin code-named Sphinx, never gel. Even an affair with a rakish antiquities inspector and multiple international settings fail to add spice. (Dec.)