Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book Review - Elizabeth Peter's Lion in the Valley

Lion in the Valley, Amelia Peabody Book 4 by Elizabeth Peters
Published by: Avon
Publication Date: 1986
Format: Paperback, 370 Pages
Challenge: Thriller and Suspense
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy
As the Emerson's near Egypt Amelia has a dark foreboding... somewhere in the teeming streets of Cairo or the dusty dunes of the desert, the Master Criminal is awaiting their return. But due Ramses being Ramses, they have the firman for Dahshoor, and where Ramses is concerned it's best not to ask, he might never shut his mouth again. Once settled into their hotel they encounter that despicable Kalenischeff, conspirator with the Master Criminal, who seems to have a new target besides antiquities, the young Miss Debenham. Trying to ignore this despicable human, the Emerson's set out to view the pyramids under the light of a full moon. But an attempted kidnapping of Ramses, who is rescued by the opium addict going by the name of Nemo, spoils the night, though Mr. Nemo, despite his baser urges seems fit to be Ramses new bodyguard and he's hired on the spot. The next day as they prepare to leave Kalenischeff is found dead in Miss Debenham's room, with the lady in question missing. Amelia sees the hand of the Master Criminal, not that of a scorned lover. But to her beloved pyramids she goes, parasol in hand, there's always another day to foil that most devious of men.

But at their site things do not go according to plans. a Miss Marshall is found wandering the desert, of course it's really Miss Debenham in disguise, but Amelia is willing to help her for the time being. Then a Ronald Fraser, the cousin and supposed fiance of Miss Debenham arrives. And a man with the name of Nemo is never who he claims to be. Also Amelia appears to be constantly in the thoughts of the Master Criminal, sending her presents. Plus with all the people coming and going could Amelia have laid eyes on the Master Criminal more than once? He is more than a master of crime, as he is also one of disguise. And could his obsession with Amelia be more than revenge? With pyramids and plots and kidnappings, can Amelia solve the murder, help a young girl in her romantic entanglements and save herself?

I loved this Amelia Peabody adventure. Despite having kidnapping cliches and people in disguise she's somehow able to rise above it all for a rollicking good time. I loved the Dickensian overtones with Mr. Nemo, the opium addict. But more than that, I loved the Master Criminal. I was worried that his Moriarty to Amelia's Holmes, would not match wits with her. But I was wrong, cunning, devious and everywhere. His machinations on Amelia are truly dastardly, and while Amelia can't see the end goal, her jealous husband does. Ramses is still as precocious and freakishly intelligent, now with a slight fascination with the interactions between men and women... just a little creepy that, but he is an advanced specimen of child genius. I would write more, but really, I have to pick up book five immediately, just the time it's taken me to write this review means I have been too long away from the Emerson Clan.


Okay, in response to your critique (because I love Amelia, but there are certain of the books I re-read over and over, and others I don't ever), I wanted to reassure you that "The Last Camel Died at Noon," is next, is one I love, and really changes things up. So I would recommend going ahead and reading that one. Afterwards, though, to be perfectly honest, I would skip the next two ( "The Snake, the crocodile, and the dog," and "The Hippotamus Pool") and jump ahead to "Seeing a Large Cat." If you are still feeling frustrated after that, you're probably done. But at that point, the next generation starts to take a more active role, new voices are added to the narrative, and there's a new romantic thread in the story that really hooked me. You can always go back later and re-read the ones you skipped (I find there's not much plot you're losing, in terms of the larger arc of the books) if your interest has really been re-ignited. Alternatively, I would really really recommend Elizabeth Peters' Vicky Bliss series (start with Street of the Five Moons), as her most rollicking, funny, romantic and suspenseful series (and much less of a commitment, in that there are way fewer books). I've recommended this to all my friends, my mom, aunts, etc, and everyone who read them loved them. The focus is more on european history and artifacts, although later books do focus on Egypt.

Sorry! meant to post that as a response to your review of Deeds of the Disturber (it was my first time posting to Blogger).

Eh, responding on an Elizabeth Peters review means I know what you're talking about, whatever book it is. I know that series have their ups and downs, and I love these characters to stick with them. Actually, I will be posting it next week, but I didn't much care for "The Last Camel Died at Noon." I felt to was too much of a switch up. But I'll keep going! Also, I have the Vicky Bliss series ready to go as well, thanks to library sales!

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