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Tomb of the Golden Bird
An Amelia Peabody Mystery #18

by Elizabeth Peters

      If you are new to the Amelia Peabody series, you are in for a delightful read. Funny, clever, historical, feminist (for the times - early 1900's!) and full of wonderful personalities, the Amelia Peabody series is one of the best mysteries available. This story revolves around the finding of King Tut's tomb, and the ongoing adventures of Amelia's Egyptologist family.

If you have been around since the beginning of the series, (Crocodile on the Sandbank, 1988, recently reissued in paperback) you will have enjoyed the evolution of the love story between Amelia Peabody and her husband Radcliffe Emerson, their growing family and far-flung friends. This title, Tomb of the Golden Bird, brings to life the era of the arguably greatest find in Egyptology; King Tut's tomb. Elizabeth Peters handles it so adroitly, mixing the historical facts with her charming characters, blending truth and fiction into an harmonious whole.

World War I is over, and the Emersons have returned to Luxor to take up the concession in the West Valley. Emerson (which is what Amelia Peabody, and every one else, calls her husband) is upset to not have gotten the concession for the East Valley, where he feels the next great tomb will be found. Emerson is known for his contentiousness and hot temper, as well as his skills and experience in Egyptology. Amelia, the glue that holds together both the professional and family aspects of the story, has quite a juggling act to manage, with grandchildren, children and friends to contend with. She manages it all with great aplomb and British phlegm!

Each of the characters is multi-dimensional and attracts or repels the reader based on the wonderful sketches of their personalities that Peters provides. Certainly character development is one of her strongest points. Elizabeth Peters (real name Barbara Mertz) is herself a trained Egyptologist, with her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the famed U. of Chicago Oriental Institute. But even before she started writing the Amelia Peabody mysteries, she wrote the fun Vicky Bliss series, and under her other nom de plume, Barbara Michaels, has written several mysteries in the romantic suspense genre. So her skills are many, and the way she approaches her writing gives the reader of the Amelia series great insight into history, in her viewpoints of both the people and places of the times about which she writes. She manages to capture perfectly the slightly stilted conversation of post-Victorian times, and to instill the reader with a continuing interest not only in the fictional Amelia and her family, but in the history and travails of the time period, including the politics and local upsets of the region.

The Book

Harper Paperbacks, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
April 2007
Historical Mystery
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The Reviewer

Laura Strathman Hulka
Reviewed 2007
© 2006