The last of the Amelia Peabody mysteries…

Children of the Storm, The Serpent on the Crown, and Tomb of the Golden Bird



by Elizabeth Peters

Published 2003, 2005, 2006

It’s possible (I have no idea, actually) that Peters intended for Children of the Storm to be the final book in the series chronologically.  The next book published was Guardian of the Horizonwhich is set earlier in the Emerson family timeline.  Children of the Storm does definitely wrap up some loose ends, especially concerning the enigmatic Sethos, but I am definitely glad that Peters went on to write The Serpent on the Crown and Tomb of the Golden Bird.  There is a definite sense of finality at the end of The Tomb of the Golden Bird that is satisfying.  While I wish Peters could have continued to write about the Emersons indefinitely, Amelia and Emerson have to be in their 60’s by the end of the series, so it makes sense to leave them still hearty and hale and doing what they love with the ones they love.

I really, really enjoyed this series.  The characters were so well developed throughout – I loved seeing how different characters and relationships grew and changed as the books went on.  While Emerson isn’t someone would like to be married to, the marriage between him and Amelia is great fun – a pair of people who recognize that “equality” does not necessarily mean “the same” – they work together as a team, but a team works best when each is accomplishing the task at which he is best.  The evolution of the character of Sethos was delightful as well, and I loved watching Ramses and Nefret fall more and more in love, even after the birth of their children.

This series covers over 30 years of time, and does it well.  The passage of time, especially throughout the war years, felt realistic.  Peters’s skillful interweaving of actual people and events makes her books very believable.  I actually saw a reference in another book to an event that had occurred in Egypt at this time, and found myself wondering if they were going to mention the Emersons…

All in all, I highly recommend this entire series.  I’m looking forward to reading more of Peters’s books in the future (I do believe that her Vicky Bliss series also involves Egypt, although in a more modern setting).  Good times reading these – I’m super sad to see them end!

“Lord of the Silent” and “The Golden One”


Published 2001, 2002

!!!! I am nearing the end of the Amelia Peabody series, and I’m actually super sad about it.  The character progression in these books has been excellent, and I have grown quite attached to the Emerson family.  But with only three more volumes left, I am rapidly nearing the end of my time in early-20th-century Egypt with these eminent archaeologists/detectives.

For those who have been following along, the two books prior to these held some major plot twists.  With the background of World War I, and the reintroduction of Amelia’s truly diabolical nephew, Percy, the books were also a bit darker than the rest of the series.  With The Lord of the Silent, however, Peters returns to her somewhat lighterhearted stories.  With a startling revelation about arch-nemesis (and apparently impossible-to-kill) Sethos at the end of He Shall Thunder in the Sky, his involvement in these next books was even more entertaining, exciting, and intriguing.  

Ramses and Nefret are finally married.  As a side note, that was a love story that has gone on through multiple volumes, yet really didn’t seem to drag (except, possibly, in Guardian of the Horizonbut that could be because that book was not published until after the last volume chronologically; for that particular character-development line, Peters had already rather confined her characters).  Now that they are married, everything is perfect.  Peters writes about their love and about learning to  be married perfectly.  She also really develops the relationships between the two couples (Emerson + Amelia and Ramses + Nefret) as they all learn to relate together as adults – a lesson that was hard-learned in the previous two books.

Peters tells us that, after their marriage, Nefret assists Ramses in writing his third-person narrative (“Manuscript H”) which makes up a good portion of the books.  Previously, Nefret’s voice was heard through her letters to her cousin Lia; now both she and Ramses tell their part of the story through the Manuscript.  Especially in Lord of the Silent, the two couples actually spend a decent amount of time apart.  By using two voices, Peters is able to tell two separate stories that (of course) turn out to be one.

These books are great fun; despite their length, I have trouble putting them down.  I think that part of the reason I love them so much is because Amelia and Emerson are so devoted to each other and to their family.  In the introduction of one of these books (I can’t remember which, and they’ve already gone back to the library), Peters tells us that she is proud to present more material from “Amelia Peabody Emerson – Egyptologist, wife, and mother” (or something like that) and goes on to say that she believes that Amelia wouldn’t argue with the order.  However, I think that she would.  While the Emersons are completely committed to archaeology, and are ardent in their attempts to preserve and record Egyptian history, both Emerson and Amelia frequently show through their actions that nothing is more precious to them than their family, and that they are willing to make any sacrifice in order to keep them safe.

Throughout these two books, especially, they work together as a united front, with that sort of “one for all and all for one” spirit.  This family loyalty and love is a huge part of what  makes these books so very enjoyable – the laughter, tears, sorrows, and joys shared within this family are what make them so realistic.


“The Falcon at the Portal” and “He Shall Thunder in the Sky”



by Elizabeth Peters

Published 1999, 2000

The next two books in the Amelia Peabody series find the Emerson family back in Egypt (where they belong!), once again finding their archaeological efforts interrupted by little annoyances like murder.

Overall, these books have been rather lighthearted and fun, but in these two books the stories get a bit – darker.  Part of it is the war.  The Falcon at the Portal is set during the 1911-1912 season, and murmurs of war are already everywhere, especially in northern Africa, where various European countries are all quietly wrestling for control.  By the time we reach He Shall Thunder in the Sky in 1914-1915, war is a reality, and life is a completely different normal than before.

But even beyond the background, the stories themselves are more serious.  Part of it is the continued development of the relationship between Ramses and Nefret, which is a central part of these two books.  Part of it is the reintroduction of Amelia’s dreadful nephew (who is Ramses age or thereabouts), Percy.  Percy is more than a villain.  He is cruel, diabolical, without conscience, and just plain creepy.  And I think that part of it just simply that everyone is growing up.  Ramses, Nefret, and David, who have been children and teenagers, are now adults, and facing adult problems and decisions.

Despite the gap of two years that separates them, these stories are closely entwined; The Falcon at the Portal wraps up its main story, but leaves far more loose ends than the earlier books.  I could hardly wait to start reading He Shall Thunder in the Sky.  The conclusion of that book definitely feels like the end of both of these stories.

A characteristic of these books that I enjoyed (especially in the second of them) was the growing relationship between the younger and older generations as they all learn to relate together as adults.  In particular, Ramses relationship with both of his parents, and the friendship between Nefret and Amelia, are developed as Ramses and Nefret learn that their parents (adopted in Nefret’s case, of course) aren’t as stupid or ridiculous as they have thought in the past, and Emerson and Amelia recognize that Ramses and Nefret are intelligent, independent adults.

On a personal note, I’m 31 now, and this aspect of the story really resonated with me.  I feel like one of the biggest lessons I learned in my 20’s was how to relate to my parents now that all of us are grown-ups.  It’s a whole new balance, almost like they’re different people.  I appreciated the way that Peters addressed that in a realistic way.

Per usual, the narrative was from Amelia’s journals, Ramses’s Manuscript H, and Nefret’s Letter Collection B (to her adopted cousin, Lia).  Peters does an excellent job creating three believable and different voices.  Ramses narrative, especially, has come a long way.  He still writes in the third person, but the writing reflects more of his wry sense of humor.

Overall, this series is continuing to keep me involved.  It can be difficult, I think, to write such a long series involving the same characters.  But as with Ellis Peters’s Cadfael stories, this Peters uses each story to develop her characters more, making them realistic and intriguing.

“Guardian of the Horizon” and “A River in the Sky”


Published: 2004, 2010

Sometimes an author writes a series, but doesn’t publish the books in chronological order.  This actually drives me crazy, because then if you want to read the series, it’s incredibly difficult to find a list (or rather, find consistent lists) because some people list them chronologically, some list them in published order, and some list them completely haphazardly.

I am a bit of a ditherer when it comes to deciding which way is the best way to read these series, because with series I love, I’ve had different experiences.  For instance, if I’m introducing someone to the Chronicles of Narnia, I always recommend that they start with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe rather than The Magician’s Nephew (even though the latter is first chronologically) because I feel like The Magician’s Nephew actually makes more sense if you’ve read The LWW first.

Peters, from what I can gather, wrote her initial Amelia Peabody series, and then reached a point where she decided that the characters’ stories had been concluded satisfactorily.  Instead, the next two books she wrote fit into “gaps” from the original books.  For the first run-through, The Ape Who Guards the Balance takes place during the 1906-07 season, and the next book that was published, The Falcon at the Portal, takes place 1911-12.  The two books above were published after the last book chronologically, but are set in the gap, taking place 1907-08 and 1910 respectively.  Peters passed away before published any further books, but talked of filling in the gaps even more with future books (although the only other huge gap is between the first book – 1884-85 – and the second – 1892-93).

ANYWAY all that to say (sorry for the yawn-fest) that, in the end, I decided to go with the chronological order on these read.  Guardian of the Horizon and A River in the Sky fit in so neatly that if I hadn’t known they were published out of order, I never would have suspected.

In these two books, Peters once again engages us with what have become her two main narrative methods – Amelia’s journals and “Manuscript H,” Ramses third-person narrative.  In these books I felt that Peters had done a much better job balancing these two voices, allowing them to work together rather than against each other, and underscoring rather than undermining the love that Amelia and Ramses share.

I will say that in Guardian of the Horizon, Ramses sleeps with a girl he has met (not graphically, but it was still like, Whoa wait what?!) so that was a little bit surprising.  While Peters has always tongue-in-cheek enjoyed hinting at the very intimate and warm relationship that Amelia and Emerson share, it’s not offensive because that sexual tension is balanced with a warm, committed, strong marriage over all.  That comes off very differently from Ramses’ night with this girl.

The anti-religion (especially Christianity) bias came through stronger in these books as well.  In Guardian of the Horizon the Emersons are traveling by boat.  Two of their fellow-passengers ::just happen to be:: a rather fanatical “Christian” missionary and his sister.  Per usual, the missionary is portrayed as stupid, stubborn, prejudiced, hypocritical in the extreme, anti-women, anti-minorities, and just plain obnoxious.  His sister is little better – fluttering, ridiculously submissive, simpering, dumb, unable to think independently, completely bamboozled, and just ridiculous all around.  What made me so angry about this pair is that they were completely unnecessary to the plot.  They were just filler characters, killing time, who could easily have been written as being either less obnoxious or not as missionaries.  While I don’t expect writers to always portray Christians as honest, upstanding, delightful people (because I am fully aware that many people who claim the Christian label do not act that way), it does begin to wear when an writer seems incapable of portraying any Christian as anything other than a stupid, greedy hypocrite, and, in fact, consistently goes out of her way to do so.

In A River in the Sky, Peters decides towards the beginning that she will get the Emersons to Jerusalem by having them follow someone who claims to be seeking the Ark of the Covenant.  However, the Ark doesn’t appear in the story at all, does not actually appear to be being sought, and the whole thing comes off as just being a way to justify Emerson’s claims that the entire Old Testament is historically inaccurate, full of lies, completely useless, etc., which he rants about AT LENGTH.  Again, I’m not against fictional writing using Biblical artifacts (hey, I love Raiders of the Lost Ark and all the King Arthur stories about seeking the Holy Grail, too – heck, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a favorite of mine, and it doesn’t get much more sacrilegious than that!), but I don’t appreciate having an author introduce those elements simply because she feels like mocking the religion behind them.  It’s unnecessary, insulting, and degrading.

Other than those nagging annoyances, these books read very well.  (Sorry for all the complaining!)  I actually am really, really enjoying these books.  The mysteries are great fun, the main characters are quite likable, both Amelia and Ramses have an excellent narrative style, and most of the secondary characters are entertaining as well.  These two stories were a bit odd because neither of them took place in Egypt – in the first, the Emersons have to return to the “Lost City” from where they rescued Nefret in The Last Camel Died at Noon.  It was actually very interesting to return and see some of stories wrapped up a bit better, and to give Nefret some closure from her highly unusual childhood.

In the second book, as I mentioned, the Emersons travel to Jerusalem.  Besides managing to point out that every single major religion in the world is a joke, the story flowed fairly well.

The next book will put us back on track with publishing dates, and we’ll pick up the Emersons for the 1911 season.  The romantic relationship between Ramses and Nefret (or lack thereof – thus far, Ramses’ love is unrequited) has been paced slowly but interestingly throughout the stories and hopefully will pick up a bit soon.

Overall, these are fun and entertaining mysteries that I definitely recommend.

“Seeing a Large Cat” & “The Ape Who Guards the Balance”



by Elizabeth Peters

Published 1997, 1998

There are two big things about the Amelia Peabody series that I have been really enjoying.  The first is Amelia herself – witty, entertaining, insightful, intelligent, an excellent wife, and responsible mother – her voice in these stories is a delight.  The second is the way that time actually passes.  I can remember reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys as a girl and thinking that they must have had a very busy year, since all 50-odd stories seemed to happen at the same time (“18-year-old Nancy Drew drove her blue convertible down the road…”  did every story start that way??).  Some mystery series do have a passage of time, but since they read very independently, you don’t really notice (think of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, for instance).  But others, like the Amelia Peabody books, actually build on one another, adding information and characters with each book.  The characters change and grow as well.

And so, by the time we reach Seeing a Large Cat, the children under the care of the Emersons – Ramses (their own son), Nefret (their adopted daughter), and David (an Egyptian boy who, through a series of events, now lives with their family) – are reaching adulthood.  Being the independent and clever youth that they are (and having the Emersons as their main adult influence, I’m sure), they aren’t content to sit back and let Emerson and Amelia have all the fun.  And so, with this book, we start to see much more of an involvement of the younger characters.  One of the ways that Peters does this is to introduce the voice of Ramses as well as Amelia’s.

After the first few books, Peters began to represent herself, through “Editor’s Notes”, as merely the editor of the Emerson’s papers.  Peters informs us that she has the charge of sifting through and editing not only Amelia’s journals and manuscripts, but other letters and diaries as well.  In Seeing a Large Cat we not only reading from Amelia’s personal record, but also from “Manuscript H,” a third-person account, which we later find is written by Ramses (no real surprise).  In The Ape Who Guards the Balance, Amelia’s account and Manuscript H are the main sources of information, but there are also several letters written by Nefret as well.

While I have, in many ways, enjoyed the introduction of some new perspectives, it has been a bit strange to listen to other accounts of the Emersons.  Especially in Seeing a Large Cat, it often felt as though the introduction of Manuscript H greatly reduced Amelia’s involvement in the story, and tended to make her appear much more ridiculous and unbelievable.  I will say, though, that I am on the third book that includes Manuscript H (Guardian of the Horizon) and do feel as though Peters has somewhat regained her stride, using the multiple voices to complement one another instead of ridicule.

One other point of interest from The Ape Who Guards the Balance – there is a very intriguing scene where Amelia is really forced to do a bit of self-examination.  David has fallen in love with Emerson’s niece, and while Amelia loves David dearly, she really has to come to grips with the fact that she is not nearly as open-minded or free of prejudice as she has always believed herself to be – she doesn’t think that the marriage of David, an Egyptian, is appropriate to her niece, and Englishwoman.  Peters deals with this topic very well, I thought, as we see Amelia trying to brush it under the rug, pretending that that isn’t the reason she objects to the marriage (“It’s because they’re too young!”) and, in the end, being strongly reminded of the fact that people are people no  matter their race or origin, and that an Egyptian (in this case) is just as capable of possessing a high moral code, a chivalrous attitude, and the willingness to lay down his life for another, as anyone else.

The Hippopotamus Pool



by Elizabeth Peters

Published 1996

Frequently, when I am reading a series, I will publish one review for multiple books.  However, having just completed the book that follows The Hippopotamus Pool (Seeing a Large Cat), I feel that it begins a sort of new feel to the books (which I will discuss more whenever I get around to reviewing it – I always seem to be so behind!).  And so, The Hippopotamus Pool stands alone.

In this edition of the Emerson Family Adventures, Amelia and her husband make one of their greatest discoveries of all time – the tomb of an Egyptian queen.  A few years have passed since we last saw the family in The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog, and the whole family is back together again in Egypt, including the Emerson’s adopted daughter, Nefret.  The family is also joined by Emerson’s brother, Walter, and his wife, Evelyn.  Their marriage is in a bit of a rough spot following the death of their infant the year before, but Amelia is confident that some time back out on a dig will remind them of their love.

This was another fun, entertaining, lively mystery.  The narration is a delight, the dialogue frequently hilarious, and the characters are very real.  I am not usually much of a fan of first person narratives (hopefully I haven’t already gone into this while reviewing another of these books, lol), but Amelia reads like a very real individual.  Somewhere around this book or perhaps the one before, Peters begins to represent herself as merely the editor of Amelia’s journals and other documents (this ramps up in Seeing a Large Cat with the addition of “Manuscript H”), and it’s actually quite believable, as Amelia is delightfully realistic.  Peters, who did not originally intend to make Amelia’s character the star of a series (the first book has a very independent, here-we’ll -wrap-up-with-an-epilogue kind of feel), is able to use her role as “editor” to deal with any discrepancies with dates/ages (e.g. Amelia tells us that she is in her 30’s – she actually says the exact age but I can’t remember what – in the first book.  Well this gets awkward 15 books later) by blaming them on Amelia.

These books are a lot of fun, although at times the endings are almost too casual – I sometimes feel like various characters or plot lines have gotten kind of brushed off.  For instance, in this book the whole Walter-and-Evelyn-are-going-through-a-rough-time is a big deal at the beginning of the book, but the end it just kind of fizzles out as “Well of course they still love each other because Walter almost died and now Evelyn has been reminded of her love” except we don’t really see that per se in the characters’ actions.

Still, on the whole, I definitely recommend these as an excellent read.

“The Last Camel Died at Noon” and “The Snake, the Crocodile, & the Dog”



by Elizabeth Peters

Published 1991, 1992

These next two installments of the Amelia Peabody series were possibly my favorites so far.  Basically, instead of following a traditional murder-mystery format, in which someone is murdered and we spend the rest of the book gathering clues and eliminating possible perpetrators, Peters creates crazy situations and revels in them.  They are still within the realm of possibility (there is no magic or miraculous occurrences), but they are pushing the boundaries, so to speak.

The Last Camel Dies at Noon is, actually, a literal title.  In the first chapter, we find the Emerson family (Amelia, Emerson, and son Ramses), along with a servant/guide struggling across the desert, and their last camel dies at noon, leaving them in desperate straits.  We then  backtrack, and learn all the story that has led up to this point.  It’s not a method that I always enjoy, but because we have been traveling with Amelia through several books, this doesn’t feel like a gimmick at all.

The story is intense and intriguing and kept me on my toes up until the very last page.  A definite win.

The next story actually ties in closely (these are books that should definitely be read in series order), as in the Last Camel Died at Noon the Emersons discovered a sort of “lost city” and have promised to never reveal its location.  In The Snake, the Crocodile, & the Dog, someone has guessed the secret they know and is desperate to find the city’s location.  Throughout this book I was frustrated at times by things that didn’t really seem to make sense to me, but Peters did a magnificent job of pulling everything together in the end – this is one of those books that I almost wanted to sit down and read again right away, now that I held the key.

Per usual, my main beef with these books is Emerson’s negative commentary on religion that exists for virtually no reason.  Amelia joins in herself sometimes, like this passage from The Last Camel:

I would not be at all surprised to find that it was for gold that Cain committed the first murder.  (It happened a very long time ago, and Holy Writ, though no doubt divinely inspired, is a trifle careless about details.  God is not a historian.)

Okay, first off, this is COMPLETELY unnecessary to the plot.  Basically, she’s only mentioning Cain so she can make a jab at God’s apparent inability to keep track of what’s really happening through history.

Secondly, the whole statement is completely false.  God actually is, in fact, a historian, since the majority of His scriptures are history.  He is incredibly detailed (some would actually say too detailed), and the whole first murder is recorded at length.  Cain’s motive is explained quite thoroughly (Genesis 4 if you’re interested): God had regard for Abel’s offering and none for Cain’s; Cain murdered his brother from jealousy, and gold was not involved in any way, manner, shape or form.  But this is typical of Peter’s/Peabody’s narrative.  Usually I just brush over it, but when it is so obviously only thrown in for shock points it is especially aggravating.

However, I am greatly enjoying these mysteries overall and do recommend them as fun, spirited, and entertaining reads.

Lion in the Valley and The Deeds of the Disturber


by Elizabeth Peters

Published 1986, 1988

Amelia Peabody Emerson is back, with husband and son in tow.  I have actually really been enjoying these unique mysteries.  The setting is just so random – 1890’s Egypt?? – and Amelia, for the most part, makes an entertaining and intelligent narrator.  Because she makes no secret of the fact that she believes her writing may be published after her death, the whole fact that she’s writing the story makes sense.  (Frequently, my problem with first-person writing is the constant nagging in the back of my mind – to whom is this person talking!?!? but Amelia is actually writing to the world, and she knows it, and everything flows well because of it.

The Lion in Valley (although I forgot to take a picture of it) was an intriguing mystery, although the book as a whole was not a favorite of mine, mostly because of religion.  Throughout the series, Emerson makes no secret of the fact that he thinks all religion is hogwash, which is fine.  However, especially in Lion, the was a constant insistence that all religion is hooey, and, consequently, that it doesn’t matter if one is a Muslem or a Christian or whatever.  I don’t believe that, and I can’t think that most Moslems do, either.  Religion is, by nature, somewhat exclusionary.  While I believe that you have the right to believe whatever you want to believe, I naturally think that my beliefs are the correct ones …  else, they wouldn’t by my beliefs!  And so, Emerson’s unnecessary lumping together and insulting of religion did begin to wear on my nerves after a while.

Deeds of the Disturber took a twist by being set in London.  Home for the season, the Emersons are hoping to catch up on their writing.  Unfortunately, the Museum in London is being “haunted” – by the priest of a mummy.  This was probably my least favorite of all the mysteries so far.  The story was quite far-fetched, the conclusion completely bizarre, and just – it was weird.  And a bit confusing.

There was also a whole side story where Amelia’s nephew and niece were staying with them.  Throughout the story, it was painfully obvious that Ramses was being bullied and tormented by both siblings, but Amelia and Emerson were so caught up in their mystery that they didn’t notice what was going on.  While Ramses chatter has annoyed me in past books, it was more frustrating to hear him incessantly cut off by parents who assumed that they already knew what he was going to say.  While everything was clear in the end and relationships restored, it was hard for me to get into the mystery when I was so distressed by Ramses’s situation.

Still, on the whole, the series is good and I have been enjoying the stories.  I’m reading the next in the series, The Last Camel Died at Noon, right now, and am quite enjoying it, so hopefully I will have some more good reviews to report soon!

PS It appears that that lack of a picture has confused me for sure!  I just realized that I already mention Lion in the Valley in my last post on the series.  Whoops!

The Curse of the Pharaohs, The Mummy Case, Lion in the Valley


by Elizabeth Peters

Published 1981, 1985, 1986

Sorry, I don’t seem to have my picture of Lion in the Valley soooo…

Anyway, these three books have all been read within the last month, and I’m not completely confident in my ability to keep their plots apart in my mind, so I decided to review them together.  :-D  These are books 2-4 in the Amelia Peabody series, are are mysteries set in the late 1800’s.  Told by Amelia, the tales are adventures in Egypt with Amelia, her husband Emerson (who is an archaeologist), and their son Ramses (whose real name is actually Walter, but no one calls him that).

These are fun books.  As I said in my review of the first book, The Crocodile on the SandbankI quite enjoy Amelia (except when she’s on her pointless feminist rants).  She and Emerson are very happily married.  Emerson is an excellent husband (in my mind) – he respects Amelia and thinks she is brilliantly intelligent, he listens to her advice and views, and considers her one of his most important workers on the dig, and basically treats her as an equal partner in all things.  On the other hand, he still watches out for her, protects her, and tells her that she’s ravishingly beautiful – in short, he gives her the same respect he gives other men, but cherishes her as a woman.

The mysteries are fun, although sometimes a bit short on mystery.  The Mummy Case, for instance – hopefully not too spoilery here, but the whole wrap-up of that mystery seemed a bit sloppy to me.

While I am enjoying these books and am planning to continue reading through the series, there are two negatives for me.

The first is Ramses.  he travels with his parents to Egypt first in The Mummy Case.  At the age of six or seven, he is brilliantly intelligent for his age and absolutely OBNOXIOUS.  And in this book, Peters has decided to give him a speech impediment, so every time he uses a word with “th,” he pronounces it with a “d,” and that got extremely old VERY FAST, because Ramses talks a LOT and he knows he’s super smart so he’s always going off on these long-winded speeches like “Dis appears to be de mudder of de odder man” and I just wanted to shake him.  Seriously, if he was still using that impediment in Lion in the Valley, I probably wouldn’t have read it; it was THAT annoying.  There’s just a huge difference between listening to someone speak who has a speech impediment and being forced to read it for a couple hundred pages.  While his long-winded and annoyingly superior speeches were just as frequent in Lion in the Valley, at least he could talk like an adult (and I do not at all mean to belittle or insult someone who has a speech impediment, so please don’t take this offensively) so that helped.

The second negative is almost a positive.  Basically, Amelia and her husband are VERY HAPPILY MARRIED if you get my drift, and while there is never anything even kind of explicit, she’s CONSTANTLY referring to them looking to go off by themselves or making sure they have a bedroom door that locks or whatever and it’s fine now and then, but, especially in Lion in the Valley, it started to almost feel like filler, just all these paragraphs saying basically the same thing.  I get the point.  You enjoy the intimacies of marriage.  A lot.  Can we move on now?

But still.  I enjoy the humor, and the setting is unique and interesting.  Overall, these books are sort of middle ground for me, a pretty solid 3/5.  Worth the read once, but probably not a collection I’m going to buy for my own shelves.  There are still several books to go, though, so we will see how they unwind.

Crocodile on the Sandbank



by Elizabeth Peters

Published 1975

My new mystery series has begun!  The Amelia Peabody mysteries have been on my list for some time.  Set in the late 1800’s, the heroine is a 30-something spinster named (you guessed it) Amelia Peabody.  Having inherited a lot of money, Amelia decides to do what she’s always yearned to do – travel.  Her first destination?  Egypt!

Peters actually has a PhD in Egyptology, so her books are well-researched and interesting, with just the right amount of Egyptian history to keep the reader up to speed, but not enough to drag down the plot.  While I’m not always a fan of first-person writing (especially mysteries), I have to say that Amelia makes an entertaining and humorous narrator; I really like her character.

I could be wrong (because who wants to actually do research and find out if I’m right?) but I really get the impression from this book that Peters did not necessarily mean to start a series.  The end of this book has a nice epilogue that really wraps up the characters neatly.  Still, I can see how she couldn’t resist revisiting them for multiple  books, as Amelia and her friends make for very fun reading.

Amelia is a rampant feminist, almost the point of being obnoxious, but because I liked her so well otherwise, I was able to tolerate her random outbursts (some, but not all, of which were justified) on the subject.

These are “cozy” mysteries – they aren’t the kind that are going to keep you up late at night, jumping at every bump in the dark, but they are suspenseful and this book definitely kept me turning pages.