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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Set in 1910, this is another of the books that skips back in time (like Guardian of the Horizon (Amelia Peabody Murder Mystery)) and is set immediately after that book and before the fateful Falcon at the Portals (Amelia Peabody Murder Mystery). With war with Germany on the horizon, the Emersons are drawn into the pre-war machinations in the middle east. Ramses has taken himself off to Samaria to put some space between him and Nefret, while the older Emersons are drawn into British pre-war intelligence - but, as usual, nothing goes quite to plan.

I was really looking forward to Emerson taking on the old testament but this is sadly a slow paced book which never really engages with any of the plot points that it sets up at the start. While Amelia is as spiky as ever, this novel lacks the levels and sub-plots that have made the earlier books in the series so wonderful, and also lacks emotional finesse, so that nothing new is discovered and nothing is ever really at stake.

The pacing is also deficient: Amelia doesn't even get to make one of her famous lists till p.279 of a 304 page narrative, a mark of the rambling story that feels like it's scene-setting until the end is suddenly upon us.

So if you're following the series then it's almost impossible not to read this, but this really isn't a good place to start for new readers. The earlier books are far richer, funnier, sometimes emotionally tense and just full of a kind of joie de vive that is conspicuously lacking here: I did enjoy this in a half-hearted kind of way, but the falling off in standards is everywhere.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2011
I have enjoyed the Peabody journals for years, even seeking out titles in New York that I couldn't get easily in UK, but......for the first time I have put this story down half finished.
Other reviewers are right, it's slow in pace & seems to have been an effort to create a decent plot. Amelia's narrative is not as witty as heretofore, (or maybe I've read too many & am a little jaded!)
Pleasant for bed time reading & I will finish it, but will not be quite so keen to seek out the next installment, sorry Ms Peters, you have served me so well!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 20 June 2010
This is number nineteen in a series of books by Elizabeth Peters about an archaeologist Amelia Peabody and her family. The first eighteen books detail their escapades in Egypt where their lives as archaeologists are carefully intertwined with ancient Egyptian finds and modern detective fiction, as Elizabeth Peters blends real Egyptologists with fictional people. This book number nineteen in the series has Amelia Peabody in Israel where she is involved more in detection than in archaeology.
I hope her next book will return to the digging up the past rather than dealing with her detective role as it is in her writing about archaeology where she excells.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 21 November 2011
As a long standing fan of Amelia Peabody and E.Peters I have to admit the terrible truth... I gave up after about 20 pages! Such a boring, contrived, uninteresting book I have not had in my hands for a very long time.
There is no story to speak about, the jokes are tedious at best, there is no pace, no mystery...sorry but I would not recommend this book to anyone. If I could give it zero stars -that would be my choice.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2010
Pleasant. Not a bad thing at all, in my view. All of the Amelia Peabody novels are pleasant and that is sometimes all that one wants. This book was quite gripping too. It also had the advantage of taking a step back in time to when the Emerson 'clan' was not as large. It felt like that created fewer distractions and added depth to the characterisation.

Many crime novels, particularly when the series runs to so many books, can seem a bit formulaic, but that seems to matter less with the Amelia Peabody books than with others. The writing is excellent and very entertaining, as ever.

Ultimately, it may boil down to a matter of expectations. If you want to relax, have a grin and learn a bit along the way, then please choose this book. If one is after a historical tour-de-force, then perhaps 'Crime' isn't the right category to be looking in.

By the way, I would love there to be a book in which Emerson is left to his own devices. It could be a little too close to home, mind you.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 23 July 2011
I am a huge Peabody fan and bought the book in great anticipation, which explains the great feeling of disappointment. The plot is as shallow as described by other fellow readers, with the writer starting off so slowly I dropped off to sleep the first 8 chapters, and then providing half-hearted conclusions to all subplots too quickly in too few words, leaving me open-mouthed with disbelief and sadly, relief, when I reached the final page. Most importantly, the narrative lacks the dry humor which I had greatly enjoyed in the Peabody series. Perhaps the time has come, as the unfortunate practice has been in the industry, for a ghost writer to write instead of E.Peters herself?
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on 3 May 2013
I love the series, I adore Amelia Peabody but she's running out of steam in what is rapidly becoming a petrol-driven world. I wouldn't ask her to retire but I think the entire Egyptology in the Edwardian world has reached its limits.

If there is a way to continue, it would have to be a next generation taking up the challenges, but there's going to be a loss of allure that gave us so much entertainment in Egypt. It's a good read but it's not the best of the lot.
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on 25 May 2013
It was difficult to get my head round this book. I twas not as absorbing as some of her others in the series and as it was out of chronological order it was hard to place what was happening to the family at this time. I will have to re-read all the books in chronological order and then it may be better. There wasn't as many twists and turns as there normally are. I found I could easily put this one down whereas with many of the others I just wanted to keep reading.
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on 16 February 2013
It was a bit strange to return to a series I first read a number of years ago - and read this book which is new but takes place mid-series. But once I'd got my head round all that, I enjoyed it. Great to revisit characters I know and love. I think I preferred the books actually set in Egypt, but this story moves along at a good pace. Perhaps the characters are a trifle predictable, but in many ways that's part of the enjoyment of picking up on a familiar series.
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This is not a bad book but in comparison with most of the series it is rather lacklustre. There is only one strand to the plot rather than the many we are used to and it is pretty unconvincing and the characters seem like caricatures. The parody and tongue-in-cheek sly humour are also missing. It is all extremely average instead of the rollicking good read the earlier books are.
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