22 May 2012

Review: The Falcon at the Portal by Elizabeth Peters

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.

Buy The Falcon at the Portal at Powell's, at an Indie, at Book Depository, or at a bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs.
Published by HarperCollins / Harper, 2010 (mass market paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780061951640
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Rating: B+
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Veens 5/22/12, 6:13 AM  

This series sounds very good!! I am going to try and find these books here.. Thanks!

Marg 5/22/12, 7:36 AM  

I have only listened to one of the early books in this series but I can still hear Barbara Rosenblat's voice! One of my favourite narrator/book/character combinations ever!

Daryl 5/22/12, 8:06 AM  

I've wondered about this series and considered starting but always seem to get sidetracked .... going to add them to the Nook .. thanks!

Unknown 5/22/12, 9:23 AM  

Not that I need another series to read, but I might have to check this out. It sounds great!

Zibilee 5/22/12, 10:28 AM  

Oh, I would love to start this series on audio! It sounds like just the thing for me. Do you happen to know what the first book in the series is called so I can look for it? By the way, I loved this review. You didn't spoil a thing, which makes me all the more curious!

Beth F 5/22/12, 10:37 AM  

For those wondering about the titles in the series and the order in which to read them, check out the Stop! You're Killing Me site:

SuziQoregon 5/22/12, 10:38 AM  

I'm just finishing up The Ape Who Guards the Balance so this will be my next Amelia Peabody. I adore this series and can't imagine reading the paper versions. They're just such FUN in the audio format.

I have really enjoyed the expanded role of the younger generation in the past couple of books with the excerpts from "Manuscript H" and the various letters. I'm pretty sure I know where things are headed but I'm so thorougly enjoying the ride that I don't care.

SunnyReads 5/22/12, 12:28 PM  

I absolutely ADORE this series! Great review!!

bermudaonion 5/22/12, 3:12 PM  

I'm familiar with this series but have never tried it for some odd reason. It sounds like one I'd like!

Irene 5/22/12, 5:26 PM  

wow you've read all 8 of the series, she must really do a good job, I'm not sure any of the series I've read I could have stuck to for this length of time.

Heidenkind 5/22/12, 11:28 PM  

I love Elizabeth Peters, but I haven't listened to any audiobooks of her novels. I really should--I worked with a former truck driver who said the Amelia Peabody audiobooks were the most entertaining audiobooks he'd ever listened to, and from a truck driver who'd listened to hundreds of audiobooks, that's saying something!

Kailana 5/23/12, 11:56 AM  

I really want to read this series one day. I do keep looking at it, but it's long and I have other long series on the go... So, I keep making myself wait!

Julie P. 5/23/12, 6:20 PM  

This is a new series to me. Looks good!

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