Thursday, December 15, 2011
Can fear kill? There are those who believe so but Amelia Peabody is skeptical. A respected Egyptologist and amateur sleuth, Amelia has foiled felonious schemes from Victoria's England to the Middle East. And she doubts that it was a Nineteenth-Dynasty mummy's curse that caused the death of a night watchman in the British Museum. The corpse was found sprawled in the mummy's shadow, a look of terror frozen on the guard's face. What or who killed the unfortunate man is a mystery that seems too intriguingly delicious for Amelia to pass up, especially now that she, her dashing archaeologist husband, Emerson, and their precocious son, Ramses, are back on Britain's shores. But a contemporary curse can be as lethal as one centuries old and the foggy London thoroughfares can be as treacherous as the narrow, twisting alleyways of Cairo after dark when a perpetrator of evil deeds sets his murderous sights on his relentless pursuer... Amelia Peabody!
Another hilarious installment in the adventures of the Emerson family: Amelia, Radcliffe and... Ramses. Home in England made for a refreshing change from the previous books. The threesome handle many things simultaneously: annoying relatives, murders at the British museum and a bit of matchmaking between a young newswoman, Miss Minton (who looks like a younger sister to Amelia) and the ever zealous newspaperman Mr. Kevin O'Connell. Masked aristocrats, orgies and pagan rituals abound! I loved every minute of it on audio with Barbara Rosenblat narrating in her usual style that only adds to the hilarity!
The murder mystery itself seems almost secondary to the rest of the mayhem that takes place. Still, the murders serve their purpose in giving Amelia something to do and an excuse to get away from her son's experiments and her unsettling niece and nephew who have been foisted upon her by her errant brother while he goes off to India. Amelia loves to solve a mystery and the idea of Egyptian mummies, curses, a pagan ritual involving a sacrificial virgin and masquerading as a hired "extra" at said ritual - well, that's right up Amelia's alley!
I was really in stitches in some parts of the book. A favorite, and what I consider a very funny scene: Amelia at the tavern with Mr. O'Connell, the reporter. Amelia is a scream as she insists the bosomy bar maid that takes their order take Amelia's scarf - to keep warm, of course, since the young woman must obviously be in need of one! Amelia presses it upon her as "a gift." I laughed at Amelia's sheer audacity and refusal to take no for an answer.
I am stilll finding Ramses greatly amusing. His loquaciousness - and Amelia's reaction to it - is quietly hilarious. Ramses is such a character, there's no one else like him, I'm sure, in literature. He disguises himself easily, practices his own embalming experiments as well as other types of experiments involving gun powder (where does he get it from, I'd like to know!) His cousins who have come to visit for the summer put a cramp in his style, but he manages to withstand them. A tender moment (if you can call it one) between Amelia and Ramses was very nice (for they rarely happen) when we learn the truth of what the cousins are about!
I was sorry there was no sign of the "master criminal" in London, though I kept on expecting him to show up unexpectedly dressed as an Egyptian priest. Other things made me wonder too - I half expected Miss Minton was some sort of missing half-sister to Amelia, since the fact they resembled one another and were so alike was mentioned several times throughout the book. As it turns out, she is the granddaughter to a duchess - alas, with no money, but she captures the interest of a few gentlemen - some good, some bad.
Last but not least, Amelia and her handsome - and robust - Emerson are still at it. In love, partners together in every sense of the word. It is a pleasure to read about their exploits. I'm happy to see that parenthood and being old marrieds hasn't dampened their spirit one bit - in and out of the bedchamber! ;)
A wonderful addition to the Amelia Peabody series, I recommend it!