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Three stars because I 'got' the murderer way too fast.
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If you are new to this series, here are some things you might like to know...
Elizabeth Peters also writes under the name Barbara Michaels (not sure which is her real name). Personally, I have not been impressed by some of her other books outside of the Peabody mysteries. The Amelia Peabody books are adventure/mystery stories that take place in Egypt, in the late 1800's.
Here are the books featuring Amelia Peabody in order from first to last:
1) Crocodile on the Sandbank (1975)
2) The Curse of the Pharaohs (1981)
3) The Mummy Case (1985)
4) Lion in the Valley (1986)
5) The Deeds of the Disturber (1988)
6) The Last Camel Died at Noon (1991)
7) The Snake, the Crocodile and the Dog (1992)
8) The Hippopotamus Pool (1996)
9) Seeing a Large Cat (1997)
10) The Ape Who Guards the Balance (1998)
11) The Falcon at the Portal (1999)
12) He Shall Thunder In The Sky (May 2000)
13) Lord of the Silent (May 2001)
14) The Golden One (April 2002)
15) Children of the Storm (April 2003)
As someone else pointed out, the mystery aspect of Crocodile on the Sandbank is not the strongest part of this novel. (Don't be surprise if you guess the purpose and identity of the stalking mummy well before it is revealed.)
In every other way, this book is excellent. The characters, plot and description are delightfully entertaining. Amelia Peabody, a Victorian-era spinster of means, embarks for a tour of Egypt. But first, while in Rome, she encounters Evelyn Barton-Forbes, who has been "ruined" by her former lover. Amelia insists that Evelyn accompany her. Once in Egypt, they meet Radcliffe and Walter Emerson. These four characters are incredible. They have strong personalities without becoming two-dimensional characatures. The way Amelia and Evelyn relate is touching, and the way Amelia and Emerson play off eachother is classic.
I don't know much about ancient Egypt, but Elizabeth Peters provides so much fascinating description. She really seems to know what she's talking about. (In fact, she got a Ph.D. in Egyptology.)
Crocodile on the Sandbank made me want to know more about Egyptology and archaeology. It certainly made me want to read more of the beautiful descriptions and wonderfully drawn characters.
Armed with a parasol, a first-aid kit, and a formidable confidence in the superiority of the British Empire and its cultural conventions, Amelia Peabody sets out for an adventure in Egypt. On her way, she rescues a fainting Englishwoman, hires a dahabeeyah to take her down the Nile to view archaeological remains, and meets the Emerson brothers. While Walter Emerson falls for our fainting Englishwoman, his older brother Radcliffe Emerson--as curmudgeonly as Amelia--begins to do battle for control of his archaeological site. His rival? Parasol-wielding Amelia Peabody, of course.
The plot, as other reviewers suggest, is purely secondary to the characters--especially Amelia. If you want to learn a little about Egypt and in the process solve a completely unsurprising mystery then you can have no better companion than the forthright Amelia Peabody. How many mysteries make you laugh out-loud at the antics of the heroine?
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