Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Review - Elizabeth Peters' The Deeds of the Disturber

The Deeds of the Disturber, Amelia Peabody Book 5 by Elizabeth Peters
Published by: Avon
Publication Date: 1988
Format: Paperback, 400 Pages
Challenge: Valley of the Kings, Mystery and Suspense 2011
Rating: ★★★
To Buy(different edition than one reviewed)

Heading back to England after their run-in with the master criminal, Amelia Peabody Emerson and her husband are hoping to spend the summer finishing up Emerson's manuscript that was due at the publishers quite awhile ago. But even on the return journey it looks as if that might not be the case. There has been a mysterious death at the British Museum. A death that just happened to have occurred in front of a mummy. All of London has an Egyptological fervor which reaches critical mass when a mysterious priest starts to visit the mummy. It should perhaps be mentioned that he was wearing historically accurate garb, animal prints and all, that the lay person would not know to employ. Further adding to their troubles is their old "friend" the journalist O'Connell as well as Amelia's niece and nephew, whom she unwittingly agrees to care for. O'Connell has brought the Emersons into the case saying that they will consult upon their return to England. O'Connell, of course, failed to consult them before making this wild claim. But he does know them almost better than they know themselves, because there is no way they can stay away from this story. Soon they have another reporter on their tail, a Miss Minton. Between the goings on at the museum and trying to avoid reporters all day it's sure to get worse before it gets better. Soon another death occurs and the police arrest the wrong man, or so O'Connell swears.

"Officially" delving into the investigation, the two Egyptologists are soon sneaking off to opium dens, running into Emerson's ex-flames, dealing with aristocrats, because they just seem to come out of the woodwork, and star crossed lovers, which Emerson just wishes would go away. With Amelia's rising jealousy of Emerson's past life and the escalation of bizarre incidents at the museum, it's no wonder that soon there's a few kidnappings and imprisonments and recreations of Egyptian rituals. Because once the Emerson's are involved, there's investigations and counter investigations and secrets half told, but at the end of the day, the bad guy will be locked up, with or without the help of the police.

I love Amelia and Emerson, I really really do, which is why it hurts me to say that this wasn't my favorite story. At first I was concerned that I would dislike it due to it's not being set in Egypt. But surprisingly, London really worked well. The atmosphere, the fog, oh yes, the fog, perfect for mysterious people to appear and disappear into. I just feel that this relied on too many cliches and was just lackluster in the extreme. Perhaps the fact that it was the only book that was out of print, until recently, should have been a clue. I will only focus on the two things that made me mad... ok three, or maybe four, but one can be mentioned really quickly. With all Amelia's understanding of humans, how could she not see that her nephew was a little evil bully. It' was so obvious, also, they could have gone a more interesting way with the niece and her screaming of dead over and over again... like what if she had seen a murder? Oh, I would so like that, the little curly haired annoyance would need therapy for years.

Next, Emerson and Amelia's love life. I adore that they still love each other so much, but one can only take so much of their amorous affections before it becomes over the top and a little sickening. I get how wonderful Emerson is, everyone falls for him, heck, I've fallen for him, I do not now need hundreds of little asides to reassure me of this. Which then leads to... if they are so in love, how can Amelia doubt that love? Their relationship has always been so solid, so in sync. Yet here we have constant doubts. What the what I say? It's absurd, their love is a given, so why do this Elizabeth Peters? WHY!?! You're tearing yourself down. Just stop it. Also, random aside, not part of my four points, how is it they haven't had like 50 million children like Evelyn?

As my final point, in my, what were you thinking Elizabeth Peters? An Egyptian Hellfire-esque Club, really? The Hellfire Club gets used so much in these period pieces, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. This is definitely one of the not times. If you're going to do it, do it all out, like in The Young Sherlock Holmes. I still get nightmares from that! This, I could barely be bothered to read it. I was almost skimming near the end, something I never, never do! Also with the syphilitic lordling and his friend, who cares. I kept getting them mixed up because they both had so many differing titles that I didn't know who was who. Stick to one naming convention and leave it at that. Don't confuse and alienate the readers! Ok, soapbox put away. Niece and nephew, check, love life, check, jealousy, check, Hellfire club, check. Looks like I've covered what I disliked thoroughly. I did still enjoy it, don't get me wrong, the ranting is just some things that got under my skin. I'm just concerned about which way this series is headed. This book was the first that felt almost like a parody of itself, take a cursed mummy, throw in some lines about the wonders of Emerson, add a Ramses mishap (with fire this time) and set page count for the late 300s, print.


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