Serpent on the Crown
Peabody mystery, No. 17
Serpent on the Crown is the 17th Amelia Peabody novel. This
series has been a joy to read and watch in its evolution from hilarity
in The Crocodile on the Sandbank through suspense in He
Shall Thunder in the Sky to the settling down of old friends
and family in the current work. Egyptology and familial affection
is the thread that ties the group together and keeps them coming
back to their beloved Valley.
This book has all of the expected
family traits as well as a few surprises. We are treated to an exorcism
by the Father of Curses; always a delight to the natives as well
as the reader. There is a corpse in the ivy, somebody tries to kill
Ramses, Amelia carries her small pistol in her infamous belt of
accoutrements, Sethos fights with Emerson, and Nefret gets to cut
up a dead body. The book can be characterized in a conversation
that "the boys" have with Howard Carter:
been hearing some tall tales about you people," Carter began.
"Murder, robbery, assault--"
old thing," David said.
gave a bark of laughter. "Quite. Quite..."
of course that is not the whole story as there are always secrets
to be withheld from outsiders. The plot is a wind-down from previous
adventures, as is befitting the age of the characters; Amelia and
Emerson are in their seventies, the children in their thirties.
Abdullah's visitation is darker and he alludes to the end of an
age. The much unexpected plot twist at the end, while thrilling
to the family, alerts "Ameli-ologists" to a finality that
could be coming in book 18.
The beauty of it is that these
books are entertaining. Even if you haven't read the previous 16
you can still enjoy this one.
Morrow / HarperCollins