Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters: B

From the back cover:
Amelia Peabody, that indomitable product of the Victorian age, embarks on her debut Egyptian adventure armed with unshakable self-confidence, a journal to record her thoughts, and, of course, a sturdy umbrella. On her way to Cairo, Amelia rescues young Evelyn Barton-Forbes, who has been abandoned by her scoundrel lover. Together the two women sail up the Nile to an archeological site run by the Emerson brothers—the irascible but dashing Radcliffe and the amiable Walter.

Soon their little party is increased by one—one mummy, that is, and a singularly lively example of the species. Strange visitations, suspicious accidents, and a botched kidnapping convince Amelia that there is a plot afoot to harm Evelyn. Now Amelia finds herself up against an unknown enemy—and perilous forces that threaten to make her first Egyptian trip also her last…

Amelia Peabody is a proud and independent 32-year-old spinster who has decided to put her inheritance to use by doing some traveling. After coming to the rescue of Evelyn, a young woman who’d collapsed in the streets of Rome, the two of them travel to Egypt where they meet the Emerson brothers, do some excavating, and are harassed by a supernatural menace.

While I liked most of the characters as well as Amelia’s blindness to her growing feelings for the elder Emerson brother and Evelyn’s amused awareness of same (You’ve heard of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Well, this is Pride and Prejudice and Mummies), I found the mystery plot of the novel to be incredibly obvious. In fact, very early on I predicted to a friend (who’d already read it) not only the identity of the culprit but some of his/her specific nefarious deeds. Later on, Amelia herself confirmed my impression by saying, “The plot now seemed so obvious I felt a child ought to have detected it.”

Still, the flaws in the plot have not dissuaded me from continuing with the rest of the Amelia Peabody books. The first volumes of mystery series are seldom the strongest, so I assume some improvement is in order. And besides that, I simply want to read more about Amelia and Emerson and their love, which seems to be equal parts withering scorn and impassioned smooching.

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  1. Danielle Leigh says

    I love this book — sometimes I take it out when I need a good romance between equals (but yeah, the mystery is lame).

  2. I adore Amelia Peabody, and the books become so much more as they go on—but the mystery is rarely the main appeal of the books. The family keeps expanding and they all are marvelous characters with Peabody in the center as the matriarch. I’m sure you will enjoy them all, and it’s best to read them in order.

    • Thanks for that information, Susan. I might simply have to adjust my thinking on what to expect from a mystery, since the characters are so engaging.

      I’ll definitely read them in order, too; I’m kind of anal that way. 🙂

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