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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

«Amelia Peabody is Elizabeth Peters’ best loved and brilliant creation, a thoroughly Victorian feminist who takes the stuffy world of archaeology by storm with her shocking men’s pants and no-nonsense attitude!
In this first Egyptian mystery, our headstrong heroine decides to use her substantial inheritance to see the world. On her travel, she rescues a gentlewoman in distress – Evelyn Barton-Forbes – and the two become friends. The two companions continue to Egypt where they face mysteries, mummies and the redoubtable Radcliffe Emerson, an outspoken archaeologist, who doesn’t need women to help him solve mysteries – at least that’s what he thinks!»

England, Victorian Era. Amelia Peabody, a middle aged spinster and somewhat of a scholar, just inherited a considerable amount of money from her deceased father, seeing this as her opportunity for freedom, she decides to travel to Egypt and explore all the places she’s been reading about in books. Armed with her parasol and a unique personality, Amelia ventures into a world of men, who don’t take lightly to being ordered about by a woman, especially one as eccentric as her.

Meeting a stranger on the way and learning about her unfortunate story, Amelia takes Evelyn under her wing and together they explore Egypt’s monuments and sail down the Nile, constantly battling against the crew’s ideas of what a proper visit should be. When reaching Amarna’s archaeological dig, little do they know that their trip is at an end, the Emerson brothers, their recent acquaintances, are facing serious problems, Radcliffe has been struck down by illness and the workers are becoming superstitious. Not one to flee in the face of adversity, Amelia sets to saving Racliffe’s life while taking over the excavation, that is, until he recovers and tries to put her in her place. They both seem to have found their match!

This cosy mystery is the start of a series that I have the feeling will fast become one of my favourites, Amelia Peabody is almost like a female Indiana Jones, she’s witty, smart and isn’t afraid of anything, plus she’s a threat to anyone with her parasol. Radcliffe Emerson is the perfect hero, handsome, dark sense of humour, strong and sure of himself with just the right touch of arrogance. The mystery revolves around the appearance of a mummy and its apparent interest in Evelyn, but the gist of the story is Amelia and Emerson’s relationship, we soon clue in to the culprit and his reasons, but we still enjoy ourselves due to their fights and constant banter.

Despite this first volume having been published in 1975, the story and tone are still up to date, Elizabeth Peters has managed to create a timeless series that will surely continue to win fans for years to come. I for one am reading the second volume and am thrilled there are still 16 to go and one in the works. :-)

Rating: 5/5

Review also published here.

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