Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Book Review - Elizabeth Peter's The Mummy Case

The Mummy Case, Amelia Peabody Book 3 by Elizabeth Peters
Published by: Warner Books
Publication Date: 1985
Format: Paperback, 327 Pages
Rating: ★★★
To Buy (different edition than one reviewed)

Amelia is finally off to Egpyt with her son (and of course his cat) in tow. They have been thwarted a few times due to Evelyn, but not this year. Emerson has promised Peabody pyramids, and pyramids she shall have... even if, at the end of the day, they get ones that are barely deserving of the name. Because once again Emerson is at loggerheads with the man who distributes the firman's... so to Mazghunah they must go, while De Morgan assigns himself the firman to the desirous pyramids of Dahshoor, just visible from the Peabody's camp. But before they can even leave Cairo, Amelia is convinced she has stumbled on the illegal antiquities trade and the reason for their being a surge of illegal antiquities on the market. There must be a "Master Criminal!" Abd el Atti, a not very reputable antiquities dealer, is found dead after Amelia offered him help following a hostile exchange she saw him having with a disreputable looking man. Amelia, logically, connects the murderer to the antiquities and no matter what Emerson says, Amelia knows she must root out the villainous thugs who are destroying valuable antiquities and not worrying about who or what they destroy in the process.

But once at Mazghunah they have more immediate concerns. There are missionaries! More hated by Emerson than thieves... missionaries hold a special place in his darkest of hearts. Men who actually believe God told them to try a sway someone away from their own beliefs! And if the concept behind missionaries isn't bad enough, the men doing the converting are the worst sort. The maniacal Reverend Ezekiel Jones and his indentured sister Charity, as well as the overly pretty David Cabot, of the Boston Cabots. They are stirring up trouble, not just with Emerson, but with the locals, who don't take kindly to conversion. With a rebellion brewing in town and a coveted excavation site nearby and a base camp supposedly accursed, it's not surprising that soon thefts start happening, eventually escalating to murder. But with Amelia nearby, she'll soon have everything sorted with her trusty tool belt and her parasol. Who knows... maybe Mazghunah will be better than Dahshoor... even with their "proper" pyramids.

While I enjoyed the continuing adventures of Amelia and her family, this installment didn't hook me as the previous two did. Perhaps it was the less than glamorous site, that the Emerson's themselves bemoan. Or perhaps it was the less than enticing mystery of a ring of antiquity thieves. But I was just not as smitten with this book. I understand that, from the point of an Egyptologist, there can be no worse crime then the wholesale theft of antiquities and the disruption and desecration of the sites. But compared to murder and mummies and curses... it seemed kind of blase and pedestrian. Also I was very hesitant as to the inclusion of Ramses as part of the expedition party. Ramses is an amazingly smart and precocious young boy... almost to precocious. I'm fine with his overabundant intelligence and his uncanny knowledge, it was his lisp that drove me up the wall. The replacement of "d" for "th" was just too cutesy and precious. Plus, as I'm sure Amelia would agree, it was a total affectation, and that's what made it all the more infuriating. But I'm very glad that Ramses did not get kidnapped and held for ransom. It was almost refreshing to not have the "child in peril" story, which looks like it could be the crux of the next book according to the dust jacket, sigh. Well, onto the next. I'm vastly enjoying these books as quick reads and as little havens of Egyptian warmth in the cold winter months, but I am also curious and apprehensive as to how Elizabeth Peters can sustain this series over the course of the vast number of books already in it. Only time will tell...


I need Egypt as a haven, its so cold here!

Speaking of which I have got to get on with reading these!

They're just so much fun. And warm! I'm all about the warmth right now.

I left the series after two or three books, also finding that the zip of the first didn't carry over. However, I have a friend who was much more into them, and she promises that the series picks up again. There's even the addition of a new character to temper Ramses (and I think he does lose the lisp).

Yes, I'm excited to see how they progress over time. I believe they're chronologically almost up to King Tut's Tomb.

Oh man, I would've loved this series as a kid! Too bad I never discovered them then.

Ah, but the kid in you will be happy to read them even now :P

Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home