The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

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Why I Read It: Have read a few of this lengthy series over the years and greatly enjoyed them.

Where I Got It: Library

Who I Recommend This To: Folks who like mysteries, archaeology, and Egypt and stories with a strong female lead.

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (1988)

Length: 285 pages

Having listened to a few of the Amelia Peabody mysteries as audiobooks, I decided to start at the beginning of this series and read it in the order published. They have an excellent mix of comedy, archaeology and ancient history, and mystery. Elizabeth Peters picks up in this book roughly 2 years after the ending of Book 1 (Crocodile on the Sandbank). Amelia and Radcliffe have a healthy, precocious little tike nick-named Ramses. The books are told from the viewpoint of Amelia and her mind is a delightful one: part cynical, part practical, huge half independent. Radcliffe Emerson is her man, and his dry wit, bull-like attitude to anything holding him back, and his tender addresses to Amelia are a pleasant mix.

In this mystery, Emerson and Amelia return to Egypt at the request of a friend, the recently widowed Mrs. Baskerville. She knows Emerson from many years back and treats him with more affection that Emerson is wholey comfortable with. Mr. Baskerville died while excavating a tomb and left strict instructions that his work should continue in the event of his passing. However, a local reporter has spun the story up with a tale of a curse, causing the local workers to hesitate in assisting the Emersons in the dig.

Before you know it, other folks start dying, a one-eyed thief is trying to inspire the locals to rob the tomb, and a mysterious lady in white is roaming the area stirring up the fears of ghosts and efreets. Emerson takes more than 1 knock to the head and is nearly inadvertently shot by Amelia. He is also harassed by a deranged alcoholic woman who dresses in ancient Egyptian style and purports to have visions of her past lives in which Emerson was her lover. This adds greatly to the comedy of the book.

Meanwhile, Amelia is trying to unravel the mystery of the multiple deaths from the beginning. She also tries to play matchmaker between Mary, the aspiring artist, and her numerous suitors. At one point, she is nearly inadvertently poisoned by Emerson. Oops.

Overall, a very delightful mystery and I love the voice of Amelia Peabody.

What I Liked: The Egyptian setting; archaeology; Amelia’s dry wit and practicality; Emerson’s sweetness to Amelia and his adoration of Ramses; the trick with Bastet the cat.

What I Disliked: I would like to see the natives play a bigger role in the books. I hope this is so as the series progresses.

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