Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

Amelia Peabody, #1

Source: Purchased rating

Set in 1884, this is the first installment in what has become a beloved bestselling series. At thirty-two, strong-willed Amelia Peabody, a self-proclaimed spinster, decides to use her ample inheritance to indulge her passion, Egyptology. On her way to Egypt, Amelia encounters a young woman named Evelyn Barton-Forbes. The two become fast friends and travel on together, encountering mysteries, missing mummies, and Radcliffe Emerson, a dashing and opinionated archaeologist who doesn't need a woman's help -- or so he thinks.

“Men are frail creatures, of course; one does not expect them to exhibit the steadfastness of women.”

Barbara Mertz was one creative gal - she hooked me with her gothic mysteries under the Barbara Michaels penname, but I never indulged as much in her straight mystery stories under the name Elizabeth Peters. I finally took the plunge and tried the first book in her long-running series set around Egyptian adventures.

Amelia Peabody is quite a character - feminist for her times, tough and determined, loyal and intelligent. She can get down and dirty with the best of them when it comes to discovering, uncovering and fixing up artifacts. Without intention, she amuses characters and readers alike with her antics and attitude. She may be stuffy, but she's fun to like. Prim and proper can deliver the most giggles, especially with bad luck befalls on her and her companion on their travels. In this first book she discovers her love of ancient artifacts and Egypt.

Side characters give fun times too - where would Amelia be without her loyal and sweet companion, Evelyn, and the brothers Walter and Emerson? It's not a particularly romantic book and it's kept completely PG, but sparks start to fly and I'm sure most readers were happy when Emerson finally starts losing his prejudice towards Amelia and sees her for what she is: an ideal partner in exploration, both Egypt and life.

The mummy stuff was just funny. Practical Amelia refuses to be scared off by demented legends of the small minded populace, but even she must face stumbling mummies wrapped in bandages when they try to break into her camp!

It's a mystery without a murder, but there's plenty to figure out. The ambience of Egypt erupts through the pages, making me feel a bit of an itch myself when it comes to traveling and marveling at the world's mysteries. Nah, I'll just sit at home and read (I'm not luckily wealthy like Amelia and fear Egyptian snakes too much), but still...let's hear it for the Armchair Travelers.

   Book Quotes:

“I disapprove of matrimony as a matter of principle.... Why should any independent, intelligent female choose to subject herself to the whims and tyrannies of a husband? I assure you, I have yet to meet a man as sensible as myself!"

   Cover Gallery: