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In THE DEADLIEST FEVER, Miriam speaks of the beauty of the Egyptian plane trees in the gardens of Alexandria as her bearers bring her to the agora.

Rather than head south, we took the shorter and shadier route angling north into the sea breeze and then west through the side streets of the Jewish and Bruchium quarters. I prefer this route despite the reek of fried grease and the geysers of dust that blight the backstreets along the agora’s eastern edge. But before that, I can greet the marble, granite, and limestone townhouses that frame the paved lanes, their emerald lawns dappled by the rustling crowns of plane trees.

The Egyptian plane tree, Ficus sycomorus, is a fig species that has been cultivated since ancient times. Although similar in appearance to the plane tree of the Northern Hemisphere called the sycamore, it is unrelated. (Note that the second vowel for the Northern species is an A rather than an O.) Both trees can be recognized by the peeling off of their bark into irregularly shaped patches that give the tree trunk a mottled, scaly appearance.

The lesson here, of course, is don’t be fooled by similar appearances as Miriam is in her latest adventure, THE DEADLIEST THIEF. Of course, you will be too. You think not? Just click here and see.

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