Saturday, January 8, 2011
The 1895-96 season promises to be an exceptional one for Amelia Peabody, her dashing Egyptologist husband, Emerson, and their wild and precocious eight-year-old son, Ramses. The much-coveted burial chamber of the Black Pyramid in Dahshur is theirs for the digging. But there is a great evil in the wind that roils the hot sands sweeping through the bustling streets and marketplaces of Cairo.
The brazen moonlight abduction of Ramses and an expedition subsequently cursed by misfortune and death have alerted Amelia to the likely presence of her arch nemesis, the Master Criminal, notorious looter of the living and the dead. But it is far more than ill-gotten riches that motivate the evil genius this time around. For now the most valuable and elusive prize of all is nearly in his grasp: the meddling lady archaeologist who has sworn to deliver him to justice...Amelia Peabody!
Fourth in the Amelia Peabody Victorian mystery series, this time around, Amelia comes face to face in Cairo with the MC (Master Criminal) himself, who seems to have developed a tendre for her. Hilarious, involving the usual shenanigans, the loquacious Ramses, the irascible and magnificent Emerson and a crop of characters which include a pair of young lovers Amelia takes under her wing. It all continues to insure the success of this delightful series. On Audio, it's even better, made possible by the remarkable Barbara Rosenblat.
Amelia and her archaeologist husband, Emerson are at it again in Egypt. No sooner do they get there but murder and intrigue stalks them. This time around two younger characters join their camp, both carrying secrets of their own. Nemo, a red headed drifter who is addicted to opium is employed to watch Ramses - not an easy task. Nemo is obviously from the ruling class - a Scot most likely, but his background remains to be seen. Amelia is eager to uncover the truth about him whilst reforming him of his dissolute ways. She sums him up easily - there must have been a women that led to his self-destruction. She is determined to get to the bottom of it. Coincidentally, a pretty young woman, Enid joins them as well. Enid is hiding out with the Emersons to avoid being arrested for murder in Cairo. Who really murdered her supposed lover and what brought her to Cairo in the first place? Do she and Nemo know one another from another time? And where did he get this Nemo name from anyway? His name is really Donald - or was it Ronald? In any event, he's a Fraser. Red hair with a last name of Fraser? A Scot too? I like him already!
Loads of uproarious moments throughout the novel. One particularly funny moment was the predicament of explaining to Ramses the facts of life. Amelia tactfully leaves this momentous occasion to Emerson who harrumphs and coughs his way through it as Ramses asks question after question. It was really quite funny. I find as Ramses is getting older, he's not quite as adorable as he used to be, but his moments in the novel are the highlights as are the private moments between Amelia and Emerson.
The crowning point in the novel is when Amelia is kidnapped by the Master Criminal and he explains his motives to her - much to her horror and complete surprise. I must admit, it's hard to get Amelia flustered, but in this case, she came pretty close - and was indeed, quite flattered by the attentions of Sethos (as the Master Criminal calls himself) nearly overcome by the moment and caught up in his ... how shall we say... charms? Fortunately, Emerson rescued her just in the nick of time. Sethos escaped (a master of disguise and magical chicanery) after an impromptu duel over harem clad Amelia (though not without her underclothes!) Emerson did take note of her outfit later and was able to put it to good use before the authorities came. ;)
I'm leaving tons out, but as usual, this was a superb and very, very funny installment in the adventures of Amelia Peabody!