I’ve been wanting to read Elizabeth Peters’ series of Amelia Peabody mysteries, set amongst archeologists in Egypt in the late nineteenth century, for some time, but waited till I could get the earliest books, since there are many in the series and I wanted to read them in order. The Crocodile on the Sandbank was well worth the wait.
Amelia, an independent-minded woman who chafes against the restrictions of a woman’s role, is a wonderful narrator. She’s funny, strident, and extremely perceptive about many things while still managing to have huge blind spots about areas of her own life — like her attraction to the irascible archeologist, Radcliffe Emerson.
The mystery in this particular novel is actually a bit weak, since it has a plot hole you could sail a dabeeyah through (that’s one of the luxurious houseboats that Amelia, like other tourists, rents to travel down the Nile and I want one … because after reading these novels, not only do I want to go to Egypt, I want to go to Egypt in 1880!!). I’m now on the third novel of the series and I’m happy to say that the mysteries get better and more tightly plotted as they go along. The narrative voice and the sense of place and time is so vivid and so much fun that I’m glad there are many, many more Amelia Peabody books still ahead of me!