Elizabeth Peters has outdone herself in The Falcon at the Portal, the 11th Amelia Peabody book.
For those who don't know the premise of the series, here's a very brief synopsis. The books focus on the adventures of the Emerson family, world-famous Egyptologists at the turn of the 20th century. Although most of the time the group is in Egypt conducting archaeological research, sometimes they're in England during the off-season. Amelia, irrepressible with a strong ego, narrates the stories about her dashing husband, Emerson; her brilliant and troublesome son, who goes by the name Ramses; their ward, the beautiful Nefret; and other friends and family.
The Emersons have a well-earned reputation for being in the center of trouble, and the plots of murder, theft, and/or kidnapping are always offset by stories about the personal lives of the family members. Elizabeth Peters tempers the mysteries (always solved by the Emersons) with a fantastic sense of down-played humor, and keeps the books fresh by allowing her characters to mature and change.
A Falcon at the Portal, which takes place in 1911, is a significant book in the series; in fact, it's a game changer. The novel is tightly constructed, and the solution to the mystery doesn't become clear until quite late in the book. The best part, though, is in the family story, but I'm not going to discuss it because I hate to spoil the novels. Let me simply say that there's a lot happening here besides the usual murder and mayhem, and Peters is giving more air time to the younger generation of her characters. She's also cleverly left one huge story line on a mini cliff-hanger that will have me reading book 12 before too many weeks pass.
If you're on book 8 or so and wondering about sticking with the series, let me reassure you. Elizabeth Peters will continue to hold your interest. I wholeheartedly recommend this series to both men and women; you don't have to be a full-fledged mystery fan to get attached to Amelia Peabody and her beloved Emerson.
As always, I listened to the unabridged audio edition (Recorded Books; 15 hr, 13 min) read by Barbara Rosenblat. Is there anyone who could narrate this series more skillfully? I truly think not. She handles the variety of accents, different ages, and both sexes with ease. In addition, she has the perfect touch for the lighthearted scenes as well as for the heartbreaking moments. Rosenblat is a pleasure to listen to.
Published by HarperCollins / Harper, 2010 (mass market paperback)
Source: Bought (see review policy)
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