Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters - book review

Title: Crocodile on the Sandbank
Author: Elizabeth Peters
Published: First published in 1975
Series: Amelia Peabody #1
Genre: Historical mystery
Archaeology, Egypt, historical, mystery, romance, Victorian.
The Amelia Peabody seriesGoodreads

I've always been a sucker for a good mystery, ancient Egypt, the Victorian era and a strong female lead. What, I can get all that in one novel? Brilliant! I just had to borrow this book from the library when I finally got the chance.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Amelia Peabody, indomitable Victorian, embarks for Egypt armed with confidence, journal, and umbrella. Enroute to Cairo, she rescues dainty Evelyn, abandoned by her lover. They sail up the Nile to the archeological dig of the Emerson brothers - irascible but dashing Radcliffe and amiable Walter. A lively mummy, visitations, accidents, kidnap attempt - evil is afoot.

My thoughts

This book was a true delight! I loved everything from the characters and the plot to the language.

The book starts out quite gently with Amelia's backstory. I liked the beginning; I got a pretty clear picture of Amelia as a person right from the start. And I took a liking to her right away. Ms Peabody seemed to me to be a woman ahead of her time. She is a feminist who states that she has yet to find a man as sensible as herself; until then she will remain a spinster. But apart from that it seem to me that Amelia find the freedom of spinsterhood more agreeable than marriage; the fact that she is unmarried allows her to travel.

Amelia is a very forthright, sensible woman with a tendency to speak her mind in a wonderful way. But she also has a kind heart, something that becomes apparent when she meets Evelyn for the first time and when they arrive in Egypt. I really liked the growing relationship and companionship between Amelia and Evelyn. To me, they felt almost like siblings in the end; Amelia, the responsible, older sister and Evelyn, the younger, more impulsive sister.

In Cairo, Amelia and Evelyn meet the Emerson brothers. Radcliffe is the older, brooding brother with quite a temper, whilst Walter, the younger of them, is somewhat of a knight in shining armour. I would have liked to get to know both of them a little bit more, but I suspect I will if I continue on with the series.

This is a fairly typical mystery novel, when it comes to the structure and plot, and I won't lie about the fact that the wonderful characters and the Egyptian environment are the main reason why I loved the book. The ending is truly the weak point for me; it was fairly predictable who the villain was. It didn't bother me that much, but enough for me to not give the book the highest rating.

I highly recommend this book the pretty much anyone who enjoys mysteries. And I will definitely continue on with the series!


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