Constable & Robinson
Date: February 2003
it at Amazon US
Historical Crime (1903, Egypt)
Rachel A Hyde
A Large Cat
This is the ninth of Elizabeth Peters'
delightful Amelia Peabody series, which Constable has made available
to her many UK fans. Everything after what I regard as her masterpiece,
The Last Camel Died At Noon, seems to belong to the second
stage in this series when a more somber tone creeps in, the pace
slows down and there starts to be some harking back to more carefree
times. This is one of the least apprehensive of the later books
with the whole extended family excavating some rather obscure tombs
and having to puzzle out why they have been sent a note that reads
"Stay away from tomb Twenty-A!" As there is no such tomb,
it takes some digging before the surprise is revealed, and the Peabody
clan also has to fend off the unwelcome attentions of Southern gentleman
Colonel Bellingham and his predatory daughter Dolly, as well as
sort out Enid's marital problems as her husband Donald appears to
have fallen in love with the ghost of an Egyptian princess.
As usual there is plenty of adventure,
readers can renew their acquaintance with many of the usual characters
and meet a few colorful new ones. There is less about excavation
and Egyptology in this book and more about the family, which at
times gets tedious, and Ramses' diary extracts often go over what
we already know without adding anything that cannot be guessed.
The plot treads water in some places but manages to keep the reader
guessing a bit, but by this stage the series is as much family saga
as a mystery and so the archaeology and adventure take a back seat.
My advice to anybody wanting to start reading these books would
be to start at the beginning. Anybody who has read my other reviews
of this series will know that I prefer the earlier volumes, but
this is one of the most enjoyable of the later numbers and a rare
mixture of murder, humor and adventure.