17 July 2012

Review: A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

A River in the Sky is the 19th Amelia Peabody book that Elizabeth Peters wrote, but it's the 12th book chronologically. As I mentioned last month in my review of Guardian of the Horizon, there are two ways to read this series: via the stories' time line or by date of publication. I've decided to go by time line.

You can imagine how difficult it is to write a spoiler-free review at this point in the series, so I'll give you a bare-bones idea of what the book is about and then tell you my general thoughts. Thus this post is less review and more musings.

A River in the Sky takes place in 1910, and is set in Jerusalem. When the Emersons decide to spend the archaeology season in Palestine, instead of their usual Egypt, they tell their colleagues that they want to broaden their studies. In the meantime, however, Emerson has been speaking with the British intelligence department, and Amelia has her eyes and ears open to signs of spies. Ramses, their son, is to meet them in Jerusalem after taking leave of his archaeological work in Samaria. Naturally, nothing goes as smoothly as it should, and there are dead bodies, people to be rescued, and the usual spots of humor to balance the action.

In this novel, Peters interjects hints of political unrest and rumors of war. The Emersons observe that both Turkish soldiers and German citizens seem to have an unusally high degree of interest in the area, as do the British. The family is caught up in riots, clashing religions, and secret societies. In A River in the Sky, the personalities of the main characters stay true to the series, but the atmosphere and plot seem slightly more sober than the earlier books. Perhaps this is because I know the fate of the Middle East, Jerusalem, and Palestine in the decades to come.

A River in the Sky foreshadows World War I but gives no hints as to what's going to happen in Falcon at the Portal, which is the next book in the time line and is a major game changer. I was a bit surprised because I was expecting a tighter bond between the two novels. This isn't a negative, it just isn't what I expected.

There are few series that keep me invested across so many books. I recommend Elizabeth Peters's Amelia Peabody series to readers interested in Egyptology, archaeology, historical mysteries, and cozy mysteries. The books are well written and lots of fun and would appeal to readers who like the idea of following a family of great characters over the course of several decades.

As always for this series, I listened to the unabridged audiobook (Harper Audio; 11 hr, 3 min) read by the fabulous Barbara Rosenblat. I've praised Rosenblat's narration throughout the series; her work is not to be missed.

Buy A River in the Sky 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, 2011 (several editions are available)
ISBN-13: 9780061246272
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Rating: B
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Chinoiseries 7/17/12, 6:37 AM  

Sounds good! I do enjoy a well-written cozy/historical mystery. Thanks for the recommendation and the review.

Unknown 7/17/12, 7:35 AM  

I may have to add these to my audio books. Thank you for a tempting review.

Daryl 7/17/12, 8:42 AM  

when I first discovered Elizabeth George I had her confused with Ms Peters .. I've never read any of Peter's books .. where do I start? I think I'd prefer following a timeline .. so which book do I get first?

Beth Hoffman 7/17/12, 9:10 AM  

This series is new to me and it sounds like I'd really enjoy following the characters.

Barbara 7/17/12, 9:10 AM  

I haven't read a book in this series in years. I confess to getting a fit of the giggles every time I even think of their son's name, but the novels are fun. I think it's time to get back to the series.

Sandy Nawrot 7/17/12, 9:54 AM  

Love Rosenblat as a narrator. She has SUPERB accents. I know I have a few series that I read religiously, so I understand the loyalty. It is intimidating to look at one with 19 installments though. I am sure I would like the series...it has everything that interests me. It is just going to have to be a project some day for me, I guess.

Zibilee 7/17/12, 10:52 AM  

I bet this one would be fascinating, knowing what we know about the area and how things play out. I can imagine that I might really enjoy these books, and should look into checking them out at some point. I also think audio is the way to go with these. It seems like you enjoy that format as well. Great review today!

Robin M 7/17/12, 12:48 PM  

Sounds like my kind of series. Will have to check it out.

bermudaonion 7/17/12, 2:23 PM  

Keeping up a long running series has to be difficult. It sounds like Peters is doing a great job.

Marg 7/19/12, 7:12 AM  

Because I am reading in publishing order I haven't read this one yet! Need to get back to this series, and yes, that is what I said last time you reviewed one of these books!

Julie P. 7/19/12, 3:51 PM  

I can't even believe I haven't read any of these yet! I bet I'd love them.

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