Saturday, April 21, 2012
Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
Publisher: Recorded Books (1991)
Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat
Audio length: 9 hours and 52 minutes
Blurb from Amazon.com: Elizabeth Peters's unforgettable heroine Amelia Peabody makes her first appearance in this clever mystery. Amelia receives a rather large inheritance and decides to use it for travel. On her way through Rome to Egypt, she meets Evelyn Barton-Forbes, a young woman abandoned by her lover and left with no means of support. Amelia promptly takes Evelyn under her wing, insisting that the young lady accompany her to Egypt, where Amelia plans to indulge her passion for Egyptology. When Evelyn becomes the target of an aborted kidnapping and the focus of a series of suspicious accidents and mysterious visitations, Amelia becomes convinced of a plot to harm her young friend. Like any self-respecting sleuth, Amelia sets out to discover who is behind it all.
I have read perhaps half a dozen books in the Amelia Peabody series and decided to start from the beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank. Elizabeth Peters is a prolific writer and I look forward to enjoying her work for years to come. This series is set in late 1800s Egypt. The story is told from the view point of Ms. Amelia Peabody, an independently wealthy British lady who is of an age too unfashionable for marriage. So she decides to travel. On her way to Eqypt, she rescues Evelyn from destitution. Evelyn has been sorely treated by her lover and left on her own and believes herself to be a ruined woman.
Amelia is amazingly practical and brusque, I believe is the polite term. It is her voice that has sucked me into this series. In Egypt they meet a variety of characters, including the Emerson brothers. They are poor archaeologists on their way out to Armarna, the city of the heretic pharaoh. They way Elizabeth Peters weaves in tidbits about ancient Egypt, and early archaeological efforts, into the tale is highly entertaining.
Pretty soon the ladies meet up again with the Emersons and they camp together all assisting in the dig. Pretty soon they are visited almost nightly by something or someone wrapped in strips of cloth, like a mummy. Additionally, Evelyn's distant cousin Lucas has decided to track her down and is attempting to woo her. However, her inclinations run toward the younger of the two Emersons, Walter.
While that romantic triangle plays itself out, Amelia finds herself in cheerful arguments with the older Emerson, Radcliffe (which is a nifty name in my snobbish opinion). Images of Amelia considering using her bare toes to preserve a mural with tapioca have me chuckling still.
Barbara Rosenblat is one of my favorite narrators, hands-down. Her range for both male and female voices still astounds me. She is the perfect fit for practical, blunt, rarely hysterical Amelia Peabody.
Pluses: Ancient Egypt; plenty of strong females with significant, useful roles; mummy-ish intrigue; Radcliffe Emerson's outbursts.
Minuses: I am having a devil of a time (pardon the unlady-like language) finding the second book in audio format!