Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Mummy Case by Elizabeth Peters (audio)

Book Description:
Radcliffe Emerson, the irascible husband of fellow archaeologist and Egyptologist Amelia Peabody, has earned the nickname "Father of Curses" - and at Mazghunah he demonstrates why. Denied permission to dig at the pyramids of Dahshoor, he and Amelia are resigned to excavating mounds of rubble in the middle of nowhere. And there is nothing in this barren area worthy of their interest - until an antiquities dealer is murdered in his own shop. A second sighting of a sinister stranger from the crime scene, a mysterious scrap of papyrus, and a missing mummy case have all whetted Amelia's curiosity. But when the Emersons start digging for answers in an ancient tomb, events take a darker and deadlier turn - and there may be no surviving the very modern terrors their efforts reveal.
Another clever and hilarious Amelia Peabody mystery on audio with the fabulous Barbara Rosenblat narrating.  She has a diverse repertoire of voices, from German baronesses to American western drawls, she brings all the many characters to life.  Her depictions of Emerson and their young son, Ramses had me in stitches!  She was also great as the voluble and lascivious German baroness who had her eye on the very manly - and married  - Emerson.  Amelia handily sends her on her way.   The American missionary zealots are probably my least favorite of her accents, I always find it a bit disconcerting to hear American accents amidst so many foreign dialects - they sound so flat and crass!  I'm embarrased, wondering do I sound like that?

Amelia and Emerson are once again in Egypt for the archaeological season. This time they've brought their exceptionally precocious - and long-winded - son, Ramses.  He is simply adorable as an archaeological child prodigy.   As a young lad, he is naturally a magnet to dirt and muck and whatever other kinds of messes that little boys get into, much to Amelia's chagrin.  I marvel at the urbane matter of fact nonchalance Amelia exudes when faced with the myriad scrapes and predicaments that befall Ramses, unlike Emerson, who is endearingly emotional when it comes to the boy.   I believe it wouldn't hurt if Amelia showed more affection and patience with Ramses, he is a little boy after all, no matter how grown up he sounds.

I could go on forever about Ramses, I truly loved him, he was just so cuuuuute! How do I love thee, Ramses? Let me count the ways! He is a collector.  He collects things - in this case, a baby lion cub to bring home to England for his Uncle Walter and Aunt Evelyn.  He also has the most adorable way of talking with a lisp that comes and goes (depending on when he finds it most useful for effect.)  Plus, I love the way he pronounces his "th's" instead with "d's" as if he has a Brooklyn accent!  He sounds so adult in much of what he says, his vocabulary is exceptional as is his logic and reasoning. Yet, whenever he talks, it's all in this high pitched little voice and quasi Brooklyn accent! It is most adorable! His explanation of how he came to be in the pyramid with his parents when they were trapped there is particularly amusing, especially his answer in regard to where he left the note to tell someone where he had gone:
"I tied it to de collar of the de cat Bastet."
Such a brave and noble little boy!  No wonder his parents are so proud of him (even if Amelia doesn't lavish the praise as much as she should.)  I am in awe how Peters had written his character!  He is both totally adorable and amazingly advanced!

Since the story is in the first person of Amelia, her commentary and private opinions are generally spot on and totally amusing (due to her sometimes jaundiced point of view.)  She is deliciously polite when she means to be cutting.  She tosses off insults and dispatches set downs with the grace and aplomb of a princess.   No matter where she is, Amelia remains a lady first and foremost, regardless of how taxing the circumstances.   Some of the most amusing moments are when Emerson and Amelia are alone - they are so civilized with one another (at least as far as we can tell).  Even when no one else is around to hear them!  I suspect this is not the case in bed, but that is territory we are not privy too, although there are amusing allusions... who knows?   One of my favorite little moments between them, (there are many) is when they are speaking of Ramses.  Amelia vents her frustration in regard to his antics:
"I have long since given up trying to anticipate what Ramses can and cannot do," I replied with considerable heat.  Your second point has some merit; but Ramses' motives are as obscure as his capabilities are remarkable.  I never know what the devil the child has in mind."

"Language, Peabody, language."

I took a grip on myself, "You are right.  Thank you for reminding me, Emerson."

"You are quite welcome, Peabody."
So civilized and so - British!

I do love them together.  A perfect combination!  I was nearly in fits over how funny they were together when trying to determine a way to escape from the pyramid they were trapped in (before Ramses comes to help them out).  The moans and groans and noises Emerson makes were hilarious as he must lift Amelia in the air to see if she can get out to safety.  Rosenblat is simply perfect as Emerson!  He is much funnier on audio that in print - trust me!

All in all, a very, very fun audiobook to listen to.  The ultimate conclusion of the mystery seemed a bit anticlimatic and fantastical - somewhat Da Vinci Code-like, but, it was simply delightful in any case because of Amelia, Emerson and Ramses' parts in the outcome.  I'm still a little foggy about what the actual mummy case actually had to do with everything, but it doesn't matter.  The important thing is, they solved the mystery and all ended well.  Frankly, the best part of these books isn't so much the mystery in them - it's the characterizations and the humor.  That's what make this series so amusing and addictive - I'm eager for more! 



Yvette said...

I am SO happy you are discovering this series of books, Julie. As you know, I LOVE THEM TO PIECES! Yes, I'm yelling the news to all and sundry. Ha! I love Ramses, as a kid, especially. His little lisp makes me laugh out loud. His awful precociousness also has me in stitches. HAHA!!! And of course, you know how my heart beats for the 'irascible' Radcliffe Emerson. My idea of the 'perfect' man. These books are SUCH fun.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Yvette, I LOVE the way Ramses talks! I was reading some other reviews about many say they can't stand him and think he's a brat - but I feel the complete opposite, I love him to pieces! Emerson too - does Amelia realize just how lucky she really is?

Yvette said...

Yeah, I've read where some readers don't like Ramses 'precociousness', but I SO don't agree. I LOVE Ramses as a boy. I lose interest in him when he grows up, to tell the truth. Wait until you read LION IN THE VALLEY - that's one of the funniest of Ramses' episodes.

Oh, Amelia KNOWS how lucky she is, you wait and see. They both are SO jealous of each other. Wait until the Master Criminal makes his debut. I can say more. My lips are sealed. Ha!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Oh, I can't wait!! So there really will finally be a Master Criminal? LOL! Sounds great!

Mystica said...

I too like the series though this is a new one for me. Thanks for the post.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Your welcome, Mystica!

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