Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Book Recommendation: "A River in the Sky"

Today's recommendation is for Elizabeth Peters' A River in the Sky, part of the Amelia Peabody series featuring the Egyptologist amateur sleuth and her family. It was published in 2010; Elizabeth Peters, the nom de plume for Barbara Mertz, died in 2013, so I believe that this was her last  book. I was confused when beginning the story because the action takes place in an earlier excavation season than some of the previously published books, but Ms. Peters was very clever. The Amelia Peabody books have been published as if they are volumes from the heroine's memoirs, so the stories can be released out of sequence, if she chooses. To my knowledge, however, this was the only book to do so.

The story takes place when Amelia's son, Ramses, is just of legal age and away from home working on an archaeological dig in Palestine. It is 1910, when Palestine is still part of the Ottoman Empire, and it is suspected that a German agent of the Kaiser is stirring up trouble in the politically volatile Holy Land. British intelligence asks Emerson, Amelia's heroic Egyptologist husband, to investigate, and soon Emerson, Amelia, their nephew, David, and their adopted daughter, Nefret, are headed to Jerusalem, where they will rendezvous with Ramses. Except Ramses fails to appear, and the family doesn't know what to think. The story is also told from Ramses' point of view, with the two story lines cleverly interwoven until the family is re-united. 

The reader is in good hands with an Amelia Peabody book. Ms. Peters is a masterful story-teller, with larger-than-life characters, suspense, humour, romance, and interesting historical data about ancient civilizations and life during the Victorian era intermingling in her books. I've read the entire series, and it's very comfortable to dip back into the family's life and see what new adventure they'll be charging into. 

If you haven't read the series, start at the beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank, when headstrong, spinsterish Amelia becomes an heiress and first meets Emerson, his brother, and a disgraced Englishwoman whom she befriends. Amelia is not your typical Victorian heroine, and her way of doing things is unique. If you enjoy the first book, you'll have 18 others to read, which is always good when you find a series you like.

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