8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Multiple Motives Mystify Amelia!,
This review is from: Children of the Storm (Mass Market Paperback)
Before commenting on this novel, let me observe that it would be an unhappy error to begin the 15 book Amelia Peabody series with Children of the Storm. You would have a very hard time keeping track of all the characters and the mystery's solution would be totally invisible to you before the solution is revealed. You would probably rate this a one or two star book.
My rating assumes that you have read at least the last 8 novels in the series.
If you have not read any earlier books, please stop reading this review.
The setting and cast of characters are a major shift from the books in the series set during World War I. With the War to End All Wars having ended, all of the Emerson clan (and I do mean ALL) come together in Children of the Storm. Those with faulty memories will appreciate the Editor's Note which describes who all these people are and how they are related.
The book opens in Luxor with Cyrus Vandergelt concerned about how much of his large archeological find involving four princesses will have to be presented to the Cairo Museum. The Emersons are working on a messy site with seemingly limited potential which looters and poorly disciplined archeologists have ravaged in the past. M. Lacau from the Department of Antiquities arrives to inspect the Vandergelt artifacts and mummies. Soon he will choose what will remain in Egypt. But things are soon amiss! Amelia and the rest of the clan are more than usually puzzled. They cannot see a pattern in what purpose could lie behind the baffling activities. When the pattern becomes clear, there's deadly danger to overcome and an exciting finish!
Children of the Storm is exceptional from two perspectives. First, the title captures a myriad of meanings in the context of the story that will enrich your appreciation of the story. Nicely done! Second, I cannot think of a novel that weaves so many characters and story lines together with accuracy and meaning. It must be like carrying the world on your shoulders to plot and develop this complex a story. And it works.
Some things are lost in the process. The story often feels over peopled. This requires a lot of development to fit everyone together in a meaningful way. This development sometimes feels bulky. In addition, a third of the book's length is caught up with details of day-to-day life. The mystery itself would have required about 250 pages, and would have been a page turner. The mystery feels diluted amidst all of this detail of daily life.
The Emersons focus on domesticity also limits the amount of detecting they do compared to earlier novels.
As a result, much of the material in the book feels more like The Forsyte Saga than an early Amelia Peabody thriller. In fact, the book almost felt like a whole new genre . . . the three-generation extended family as detective.
After you finish this book, think about how you balance your family, your friends, your work, and your personal interests. How could you make them more positively integrated?