Saturday, July 10, 2010

Book Review: A River in the Sky

Title A River in the Sky: A Novel (Amelia Peabody Mysteries)
Author Elizabeth Peters
Rating ****1/2
Tags mystery, series, amelia peabody, egyptology, archaeology, palestine, 1910, women 

Nineteenth in the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. Peters is one of the two pseudonyms of Barbara Mertz, who has a doctorate in Egyptology. Her other pseudonym is Barbara Michaels. The Michaels books tend to be Gothics, while as Peters she writes series and stand alone novels that tend to be humorous and to have strong women characters.

The Amelia Peabody series is by far her most popular. It is about a family of archaeologists who generally go to Egypt during the winter archaeological season and then return to England. The series spans from the late 1880s to the 1920s. The family consists of Amelia, her husband Emerson, an archaeologist; their son Ramses, a linguist; their adopted daughter Nefret, a doctor; and a variety of relations, servants, cats, and, of course, villains.

River In The Sky departs from the series' usual chronology and tells a story set in 1910, in Palestine. Ramses has gone to work on a dig in Samaria. His parents plan to go to Egypt as usual, but a man named Morley asks them to join him in looking for the Ark of the Covenent. They think he is a shyster and refuse, but the British government asks them to go watch Morley as they think he is a German spy trying to cause trouble in a volatile region. They are to meet up with Ramses in Jerusalem, but he doesn't appear. His best friend David disappears to look for Ramses. Meanwhile the family worries, but start their own dig, watch Morley, and try to figure out who the German spies are and who the mysterious Sons of Abraham are.

The family are all larger-than-life characters, yet Peters writes so well that they also seem very real. Not many authors can carry a series this long and still keep readers wanting more. If you're new to the series, you've got some catching up to do - and you'll enjoy every minute.

Publication William Morrow (2010), Hardcover, 320 pages
Publication date 2010
ISBN 0061246263 / 9780061246265

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