Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Review: Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody #1)
By: Elizabeth Peters
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 0-445-40651-8

About the book:

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 archaeological 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 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...


Amelia Peabody is anything but your typical Victorian-era woman. When she inherits her father's sizable estate, she determines to fulfill her life-long dream of traveling the world rather than settling for something more conventional -- like getting married. She travels to Egypt where she meets Evelyn, a young lady with more than her own share of baggage and secrets. Amelia -- purposeful, unflinchingly blunt, and and unfailingly loyal, joins forces with the quiet, shy Evelyn, and the two embark on a Nile tour. Along the way they join an archaeological expedition run by the Emerson brothers -- the gallant Walter and his irascible, surly older brother Radcliffe. When Radcliffe and Amelia meet, sparks fly, but soon sinister forces intrude on the dig site and their delightfully quarrelsome relationship. Evelyn is the target, and Amelia must join forces with Radcliffe or risk losing her dearest friend.

I first read Crocodile in the Sandbank four years ago, and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, one thing led to another and I never pursued subsequent volumes in the series. But since reading Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, featuring another Victorian-era heroine with a propensity for using her parasol as a weapon, I resolved to revisit Amelia's world. This book is SO much fun! It's as if Agatha Christie wrote a female Indiana Jones-style character, with a dash of the humor and spunk that characterizes the character of Evelyn (played by Rachel Weisz) from the films The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. My favorite Christie mysteries were always the ones set in Egypt, and since the number of those books are finite I'm thrilled to have this series to explore -- and I'm determined to progress past the initial volume thanks to this re-read!

Within the pages of Amelia's debut, Peters delivers a rich atmosphere and a veritable wealth of historical detail. Though the villain and resolution of the "Mystery" are a tad obvious, it didn't impact my overall enjoyment of the story since its real strength and draw lies in Amelia's prickly, blunt, forthright character. I absolutely adore watching her budding relationship with Radcliffe Emerson unfold as they butt heads over archaeological and investigative methods. I was struck even moreso on this second reading of the powerful spark to their romance -- the fact that neither Amelia nor Radcliffe possess the qualities normally found in the hero and heroine of a traditional romance novel make their love story, to my mind, all sweeter and entirely more memorable. I cannot wait to see where Amelia's insatiable thirst for adventure takes her next!


As mentioned above I originally read Crocodile on the Sandbank in September 2008 -- since that review never made it to this blog, and since I decided I simply HAD to re-read it, I've reworked and expanded my old review a bit...because why leave well enough alone when you can EDIT??? *wink*


Debra E. Marvin said...

oh my gosh. You know, I have listened to every one in this series that I can find on Audiobook. Unfortunately I haven't done them in order and certainly missed this one!

I am a huge Amelia Peabody fan and you've made me want to go back to the beginning.

Is your Lit Fuse button supposed to blink?

Kara said...

This sounds like so much fun! I'll definitely have to try it. Thanks Ruth. :)

Ruth said...

@Debra - Oh, do the audiobooks have a good narrator? This one is fun...hoping to start #2 this week!

(And yes, I believe the eyes in the Litfuse button are supposed to blink...I think...lol!)

@Kara - Hope you enjoy it too! :)

Debra E. Marvin said...

oh yes Barbara Rosenblatt. Funny thing is she also do Diane Mott Davidson's cozy mysteries. Barbara is one of my favorite narrators. How they can swtic back and fort in character like that amazes me.

I do pretty well with borrowing through my library system.

Lori Benton said...

We've listened to that entire series, read by Barbara Rosenblatt, who can magically deepen her voice and shout, "PEABODY!!!" so as to make you cringe like Amelia never would have done.

She is one of the best narrators for Recorded Books. Try to find the books read by Barbara.

Joanne said...

Ruth -- I haven't listened to the audio versions of these books, but I have a book friend that adores them and told me to stop reading them and start listening to them! She says the narrator is that good. I love Amelia Peabody!

Tasha B. said...

So did you eventually read the other books?

I have to admit this isn't my favorite Elizabeth Peters series--that would be Jacqueline Kirby, with Vicky Bliss as a close second. But I remember before I could read, I would stare at the cover of Crocodile on the Sandbank and wonder what it was about! Maybe that's why I'm so interested in Ancient Egyptian art. :)

Miss Jack Lewis Baillot said...

I have a friend who loves Egypt and mummies and Archaeology. When I read this review it screamed her name. I might read it, for the adventure - I do love adventures - but she will definitely want to read this I know. The very fact one of the girls is named Evelyn will make her want to read it. (I hang out with her a lot, Evelyn Hebert went into King Tut's tomb with Howard Carter, she told me. She loves it when books and movies that have to do with Egypt name the girl characters Evelyn. As in, The Mummy.)

Sounds like a fun book though, and very exciting. If I find them I might read them.


Miss Jack Lewis Baillot said...

P.S. I like your Jeremy Renner post. *Grin*

Bookworm1858 said...

These books *are* so much fun! I never thought of comparing them to the Parasol Protectorate books but I get your comparison completely. I can only read about one book a year but I look forward to savoring these books over my years.

Ruth said...

@Debra - I will have to keep her in mind!

@Lori - LOL, that's awesome!!

@Joanne - I am looking forward to exploring this series further. :)

@Tasha - No, not yet -- hoping to make a bit more headway in the series this year!

@Miss Jack Lewis Baillot - This book could be right up your friend's alley! :) And glad you liked my last post on The Renner (ha!) too. :)

@Bookworm1858 - Glad you enjoy this series as well!