Friday, January 29, 2016

What I Read in September 2015 Part VI/What I Read in October 2015 Part I

What I Read in September 2015 Part VI/What I Read in October 2015 Part I ...

Amelia Peabody Mysteries by Elizabeth Peters-- Historical Cozy Mysteries

Lion in the Valley (Amelia Peabody, #4)Lion in the Valley (Amelia Peabody #4)

Amelia Peabody Emerson is back in Egypt with her family. Emerson has finally been given a pyramid to excavate. While still in Cairo, there's an attempt to kidnap Ramses and the wicked Prince Kalenischeff is murdered in the room of his inamorata and the lady is nowhere in sight! Amelia suspects the hand of the Master Criminal and feels it necessary to hire a bodyguard for Ramses. Emerson pooh-poohs the idea of catching the Master Criminal, if there is one, but agrees to hire a bodyguard to protect Ramses from his own curiosity. They hire Nemo, a drug-addicted beggar to watch over Ramses. Amelia has a motive-she means to reform Nemo. She's certain she knows the root of his troubles and can help.

I enjoyed this book a lot but I felt the love story was rather tedious and too similar to the plot of the first book in the series. I also disliked Amelia's high-handed moral methods. While I agree with her about Nemo's problem, I found her methods too heavy-handed but typical of Victorian moral codes. The mystery was engaging but not enough for me to stay up all night reading. I was able to put it down and pick it up again. There are a lot of funny moments - mostly with Ramses and Emerson's temper. I liked the lightness of it all. The language is so sophisticated I had to stop and read twice to understand the opening paragraph and I won't pretend that I always understand Ramses. I also appreciate Amelia and Emerson's relationship. It's nice to see a happily married couple and it's also a plus when their marital activities are implied rather than shown. (Thank you Amelia for being Victorian). I liked Ramses much better in this novel than the last. He's a bit irritating but at 8, he's less precocious than he was at 5 and more believable. To discuss the new major secondary characters would spoil the plot but I disliked all three of them. Two were whiny and silly and one was manipulative.

I can't wait to see what they get up to next. I wanted instant gratification but the library didn't have this one on e-book so I'm off to go get the print one right now. 

he Deeds of the Disturber 
 (Amelia Peabody #5)
The Deeds of the Disturber (Amelia Peabody, #5)
Amelia, Emerson and Ramses return to England after their Egyptian adventure turned nightmare. They're greeted not just by Evelyn (in delicate condition again and Walter, but also Amelia's older brother James, who must want something. They're also greeted by the press with the sensational news story about a cursed mummy. The press naturally assumed Amelia and Emerson would be investigating. Emerson doesn't believe in curses and neither does Amelia but the mysterious appearance and disappearance of a lunatic masquerading as an Egyptian priest does get Amelia's attention. When she makes the acquaintance of a lady journalist, Amelia feels more compelled to investigate. Meanwhile, on the domestic front things are not going very well. Ramses is experimenting with mummification and there are two extra children in the house to cause more drama.

This novel did not excite or interest me as much as the Egyptian set books. The London setting was not as interesting and the mystery was fairly obvious. Of course I have read other Victorian mystery novels with similar plots so I had the advantage of knowing what the end would bring. I also figured out who the chief villain was before Amelia. She should have figured it out from the subtle clues. At first I thought it was someone else but then it became obvious to me who it was. I was a little surprised by some of the events in the big dramatic scene but not entirely. I also knew what was going on with the children and Amelia should have known based on her childhood experiences. I disliked how Amelia and Emerson HAVE to have marital relations EVERY single time they're alone. Amelia doesn't need to mention it every time. It gets tedious. I hated the jealousy that sprang up in Amelia. She should know that gentleman always have a past and it doesn't do to inquire too closely. It seemed out of character for her.

There are several new secondary characters and one returning secondary character. Kevin O'Connell is back and Amelia is as friendly as ever while Emerson is ready to throttle the man. I actually liked Kevin despite his sensational journalistic style. He's only doing his job. He's not the editor or owner of the paper. I liked Miss Minton at first. Her journalistic integrity needs work but I admire her for going out and getting a job on her own merit and succeeding. Then there's the young Lord Liverpool. He's suffering from a social disease and faced with his own mortality. Like Amelia, I felt rather sorry for him, but not really because he did bring the affliction on himself. He's not too bright, either because of the disease or in addition to it. His friend St. John sends off bad vibes. I didn't like him. There's also Mr. Budge from the British Museum, who isn't very bright or good at his job. Emerson's hatred of him is understandable. Then there's Budge's assistant Mr. Wilson. I feel bad for him because he's been taught the wrong thing. Finally, Ayesha, a mysterious Egyptian woman piques Amelia's curiosity. I didn't like her at first but when the full story came out, I felt sorry for her but I didn't like the affect she had on Amelia.

I'll read the next book in the series since they return to Egypt. I will grab it later this week or read the e-book if I run out of things to read.

The Last Camel Died at Noon (Amelia Peabody, #6)
he Last Camel Died at Noon 
 (Amelia Peabody #6)

The Emerson-Peabodys are back to their investigations. Since the British Army has pushed into the Sudan, Emerson insists they investigate the ancient city of Napata, which is thought to be a precursor to Egyptian civilization. Their plans are interrupted by yet another aristocrat. Lord Blacktower wants Emerson to find his long-lost son who disappeared in the Sudan 14 years ago. Lord Blacktower's grandson, Willoughby Forthright, believes his grandfather is crazy and the evidence presented is faked. Emerson knows at least one piece of evidence is real but he has no intentions of giving up his work or life in pursuit of the missing explorer. Of course events in the Sudan send the Emerson-Peabodys off on an adventure they never dreamed of and may never return from.

This is the most incredible, breathtaking adventure for the Emerson-Peabodys! It starts off with a bang. Amelia and family are lost in the desert, deserted by their servants who took off with food and water, and the last camel has died. Amelia then back tracks to tell us how they got there and what happens next. I could NOT put this book down. I had a hard time keeping all the country borders and ancient civilizations straight. I also didn't understand everything about the co-opting of ancient traditions but the illustrations helped. The political intrigue was complicated and felt a bit cliched. I wasn't entirely surprised by the big revelation at the end but what had happened was a surprise. The story dropped Willoughby Forthright and Amelia and Emerson didn't seem too concerned with him. He pops up again way too late. I had already forgotten him.

The one thing that really bugged me about Amelia and Emerson in this novel was that no matter how progressive they are, they are still strongly influenced by their Victorian British values and they try to impose those values on to a civilization that doesn't value the same things they do. That never ends well which the Emerson-Peabodys should know. Ramses is growing up and he's less loquacious. Now I have trouble distinguishing his speeches from his parents. I actually found myself missing the young precocious Ramses.

There are too many new characters to mention. To tell you what I think of them would spoil the plot. I wasn't thrilled with any of them and found them all hard to keep track of. I wasn't sure what they meant at the end about Lord Blackpool and what they intend to do about their unexpected discovery. I can't wait to see what they get up to next!

The Snake, the Crocodile and the Dog  (Amelia Peabody #6)

The Snake, the Crocodile and the Dog (Amelia Peabody, #7) Amelia and her dear sister-in-law Evelyn regret the romance has gone out of their lives, especially now their husbands are more interested in what they can learn from Nefret than anything else. Amelia hopes their upcoming expedition to Egypt will put the spark back in her relationship. This time Ramses as elected to stay at home and pursue an education (and to be with "HER" as he calls Nefret). Emerson has a new plan to return to their old dig sites and make a through study of each one. To do this, they would need a staff (including females!) and a permanent home. Though Amelia would rather excavate some place new, she sees the merit in Emerson's plan. She's also busy translating an Egyptian fairy tale "The Doomed Prince" and they've been asked by an old acquaintance of Emerson's to watch his cat Anubis while he's away. Abdullah fears the cat is a demon based on his name, but Emerson pooh-poohs the superstition. Unfortunately for Amelia, her instincts fail to warn her of impending danger. Before they really begin making a survey of past dig sites, mysterious events occur which place both Emersons in danger. When Amelia's beloved Emerson is abducted and hit on the head, Amelia vows to move heaven and hell to rescue him. Meanwhile, long letters from Ramses arrive detailing abduction attempts on himself and Nefret! Amelia has a lot to contend with but she will keep her family safe with her dying breath if she has to.

This is the best adventure yet! Despite Amelia's protests at starting with a sensational opening, she does so anyway. My heart couldn't stop pounding and I stayed up long long past my bedtime to find out how it turned out. I almost skipped ahead but the endings are so long winded with too much explanation, I didn't want to ruin the adventure. This one really put me (and the characters) through the wringer of emotions. My heart broke for Amelia that she felt the romance had gone out of her relationship, then she faces the worst and I just felt so bad for her. I was with her every step of the way as she fought to save her family. Despite the sad overtones, there is still quite a bit of humor. The letters from Ramses are very funny (unintentionally on his part) and lighten up the plot a bit. I was completely surprised by some of the revelations at the end. I never saw some of them coming though I did suspect the identity of the villain. My only complaint about this book is that some of the archaeological explanations are too long. I was interested in the plot more than being educated (sorry Amelia).

In this novel we are reacquainted with Cyrus Vandergelt, the American millionaire the Emerson-Peabodys met on an earlier expedition. I barely remembered him so it was a good reminder of who their allies are to stick him in the plot. His heart is as big as Texas and he's such a kind gentleman. Other new characters include Anubis, the cat. I'm not a cat person and I failed to be charmed by this hissing and ornery cat. Bastet seems like the sweetest kitty next to Anubis. His name is a clue to his personality, Anubis being the Egyptian devil-like creature. Then there's Bertha, a woman with a past who seeks refuge with Amelia and entourage. She's hard to figure out and I never really warmed up to her the way Amelia did. Then there's Vincey, an old acquaintance of Emerson's whom Emerson had reported for selling illegal antiquities. He wants to make amends and leave the past behind him but with a cat such as Anubis as his pet, I just didn't like him. Nefret also appears in this story, as told by Amelia and Ramses. She's a tough young lady who will always be unconventional but strong, like Amelia. I liked hearing about her adventures from Ramses. 

More reviews still to come!

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