Monday, September 12, 2011

Review: Crocodile on the Sandbank

It took me some time to get my head around this book. It's not like anything I've read previously. This mystery, set in 19th century Egypt, is a parody of Victorian manners and mores. Amelia Peabody, an enlightened and educated woman who favors trousers, sets out to tour the archaeological sites of Egypt. Along the way she picks up an impoverished and wronged fair British maiden, and they find themselves at the dig site of the Emerson brothers. Soon the whole group is facing trouble as a wandering mummy continues to disturb them. Figuring out the mystery of the mummy quickly becomes dangerous and threatens to derail the entire expedition.

To really enjoy this mystery it's essential to get into the parody. A reader expecting historical fiction will likely be disappointed. The mystery was not especially difficult to solve, but each of the characters is so caught up in his or her particular personality quirk that they are blinded to the clues around them. Victoria is the archetypal Victorian woman, Amelia is the feminist, Walter Emerson is the young man in love, and Radcliffe Emerson is the gruff scholar.

Elizabeth Peters, Crocodile on the Sandbank (Mysterious Press, 1988) ISBN: 0445406518

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