“God help the poor mummy who encounters you, Peabody.”
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 337 (Mass Market 2010)
Series: Amelia Peabody Mystery #1
Clearly something had to be done; equally clearly, I was the one to do it.
Amelia Peabody, that indomitable product of the Victorian age, embarks on her debut Egyptian adventure armed with unshakable self-confidence, a journal to record her thoughts, and, of course, a sturdy umbrella. On her way to Cairo, Amelia rescues young Evelyn Barton-Forbes, who has been abandoned by her scoundrel lover. Together the two women sail up the Nile to an archeological site run by the Emerson brothers-the irascible but dashing Radcliffe and the amiable Walter. Soon their little party is increased by one-one mummy that is, and a singularly lively example of the species.
Strange visitations, suspicious accidents, and a botched kidnapping convince Amelia that there is a plot afoot to harm Evelyn. Now Amelia finds herself up against an unknown enemy-and perilous forces that threaten to make her first Egyptian trip also her last . . .
Wow oh wow, do I have some feelings about this one!
I was really excited to pick this one up because, if you’ve been around for a while, you know how much I love The Mummy (1999) movie. This novel really reminded me of that movie except for some key areas of difference, but overall I loved all the Egypt and spooky aspects; it was exactly what I wanted. I loved the banter, the history, the enemies to lovers romance aspect, the mummy was super creepy, and the mystery was great. This is a great read that really stands the test of time as a mystery. Let’s break it down!
This book starts off supremely slow. I mean I didn’t really find myself in the plot and in the moment until around page 90, so don’t expect this book to race to the end, because it doesn’t. However, this slower pace means we get more time to get to know the characters, the setting, the backstories. It’s a very immersive read in that regard. This is one of those books you’ll consider DNF’ing for a while, but stick with it! I promise you it gets better!
The mystery in this one unfolds slowly and is for sure a very puzzling, compelling mystery. You’re not sure what ties in with what and what’s important or not important. I was on my toes, that’s for sure. And the scenes with the mummy? Downright chilling, honestly. It was so creepy the way it was described and it was so vivid. I was creeped out when I read this at night, and that’s saying something for a book written in the 70’s.
Now, the real gem of this story (although the mystery is top notch) is the characters and their interactions. Amelia is such a feisty, sarcastic, strong willed, and witty heroine that it’s impossible not to like her. She’s definitely more on the abrasive side of main characters, but when you pair her with Emerson it’s explosively good fun. The banter. The sexual tension. The way they get under each other’s skin in the best and most hilarious ways was so so so much fun. They had me positively cackling. All the dry humor and searing insults in this book were for sure my favorite part of this novel.
Peters is such a skilled writer it’s nearly impossible not to find yourself caught up in her world. I’m not sure if this is well known, but it shocked me so I want to include it! Elizabeth Peters is the pen name of Barbara Mertz, who also wrote under Barbara Michaels! So she’s a super talented, accomplished writer. That being said, there were some moments in this book that felt a bit…. unsavory, I guess you could say. Lots of references to Egyptians being a savage people and that kind of thing. I’m not sure how much of it is being said to remain authentic to the sentiment of the time period, how much of it is because of the characters, or how much is just 1970’s ingrained racist and stereotypical ideas. I wanted to include that little tidbit because it didn’t really sit well with me and I felt like I’d be a lax reviewer and a poor excuse for a social worker if I didn’t at least talk about it here.
Overall this novel was such a fun break from my regular reading schedule. I loved the historical era, I loved the focus on Egyptology and archeaology (ya’ll know I love a good hero/heroine that is a scholar), I loved the creepy mystery, and I loved the romance. I would have given this five stars easily if it wasn’t slow as all hell. I’m really excited to continue on with this series!
Amelia Peabody Mysteries (2-7)