"Crocodile On The Sandbank"

Crocodile On The Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

This is the first book in the Amelia Peabody series, of which I had never heard until I started blogging and discovering other book blogs, many of which referred to this series of books. They are set in the Victorian era and are written in that slightly uppity, bitingly sarcastic, always enjoyable style. Amelia Peabody is a feisty archeology buff and an amateur sleuth. I've never been a fan of mysteries but the writing, settings and characters in these books are so good that I can forgive them being mysteries.

I can't say enough good things about the writing. It's incredibly entertaining, witty, wry and so much fun. I want to live with these characters just so I can listen to them talk to each other. I love well done sarcasm (as long as it doesn't stray over the line and become malicious) and Amelia is an expert. Better than an expert, if there was a Nobel prize for sarcasm, she'd win it.

Radcliffe Emerson, the other main character, is the only one who can equal her, firing back barbs of his own that are exquisitely pointed. He has no tolerance for the vanities of women and she has none for the conceits of men. They butt heads at every meeting. Both Amelia and Radcliffe are people I'm afraid I would avoid in real life, but on paper I admire them and wish I had a measure of their confidence. And lest I give the wrong impression, there is more to them than just their rapier wit; they are basically good people with more virtues than flaws, complex enough to be interesting and sympathetic enough to be inspiring.

In this first book of the series Amelia and Radcliffe meet, irritate each other, work together and solve a mystery that includes a nocturnal roving mummy at a dig in Egypt. Radcliffe's younger brother, Walter, and Amelia's young friend, Evelyn, also meet, then develop a romantic relationship that becomes completely tangled up in the mummy mystery.

The characters are well formed and continue to develop throughout the book. The plot line has enough twists and turns to keep you turning the pages and by the time you finish the last page there is no question about whether or not to read the next book. You'll be having far too much fun to stop. Fortunately when I placed a hold on this book at the library I also requested the next one "The Curse Of The Pharaohs", so I was able to start that as soon as I finished the first one.

I don't know which blog I was reading when I first found out about this series but I'm very grateful for the introduction. They are an absolute delight to read.
Here are a few passages to tempt you:

"...love has a most unfortunate effect on the brain, and I feared some lingering fondness for the rascal might still move her."

"I didn't suppose that the man had any notion of matters outside of his account books; men never do."

"Women don't think. A little forethought would prevent most of the suffering they constantly complain about."

"I glanced at (his helmet), and at his haggard face, and sniffed meaningfully; but I made no comment."

"It would be improper for them to travel unchaperoned; but by that time I was ready to consign the proprieties to perdition, where they belonged."

Give this series a look; I think you'll be glad you did.

Up next: The Curse Of The Pharaohs, the second in the series.


Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Lovely review! This seems to be a very interesting series.

Hannah Stoneham said...

I've heard quite a bit about this - sounds very interesting thank you for sharing


Bonnie said...

This book sounds like it's right up my alley. Thanks for the review I'm going to search it out!


PS - I'm following you now!

Felicity Grace Terry said...

Ive read a lot of good things about this book, thanks for sharing your views.

Cath said...

So many people love this series, and after this review, I think I might be one of them. Thanks!

lyn said...

I do read mysteries & Amelia has always been one of my favourites. I agree with you about the wit & I espoecially enjoy the relationship between Amelia & Emerson. If you enjoy audio books, this series has been beautifully read by Barbara Rosenblat. She handles all the many accents very well. As you get further into the series, an American millionaire & an irish journalist among others join the regulars & BR does a great job of narrating these very fast paced books. I'm glad you've found them.

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