Friday, June 27, 2008

Seeing a Large Cat by Elizabeth Peters

"Stay away from tomb Twenty-A!" says an ominous message delivered by an unseen hand. The year is 1903, the place is Cairo, and with the new century, everything is changing for Amelia Peabody - except her affinity for danger. Headed for an archaeological dig in the awesome Valley of the Kings, she hopes the desert will yield up its secrets. Instead it will produce a macabre puzzle of murder, passion, and cruel deceit.

Besides the warning about the tomb - which only makes it more intriguing to Amelia and her sexy if irascible husband, Emerson - Amelia finds Egypt spinning with demands that join like the threads of her destiny. A request for help comes from an old friend whose husband has fallen for a spiritualist...a plea arrives from an expatriate Civil War colonel with a pretty daughter threatened by an unknown enemy...and a special headache is bestowed by her son Ramses, grown from a precocious child to a teenager, who strikes out with his cousin David and Amelia's beautiful ward Nefret toward an adventure that could turn a mother's hair white...

Even though her famous premonitions are telling her that trouble lies ahead, Amelia dreams of a large cat, an Egyptian sign of good luck. And when tomb Twenty-A finally reveals its secret, Amelia will need all the luck she can garner, and her detective skills, to keep those dearest to her from death...or an equally undesirable fate.
There are a couple of things that are guaranteed when you pick up a Amelia Peabody novel - the first is that there is loads of fun in store. The second is murder and mystery under the Egyptian sun, and the third is lots of admiration for the ever irascible but oh so sexy Professor Radcliffe Emerson, affectionately known to the Egyptian people as 'Father of Curses'. Amelia always has to deal with the females they come into contact with who fall half in love with her husband. She always has to deal with the matter very graciously and tactfully - not necessarily this very forthright and plain-spoken character's forte it has to be said!

In this book though, Emerson has a little competition, coming from quarters close to home. His son Ramses is growing up rapidly, as is his best friend David, and I have to say that I am happy to read about any of the three of them. Ramses in particular is growing into a very dashing, principled and fine young man - a welcome development from his precociousness of a few of the earlier books. I am definitely looking forward to watching him as he grows up over the next couple of books.

One of the other good things about this book is that instead of only seeing events from Amelia's point of view as we have done previously, there has now been the introduction of other points of view, mainly in the form of Manuscript H. The authorship of the manuscript is somewhat veiled, but it tells the events in the book from the point of view of the younger Peabody's, and also allows us to look at Amelia through another person's eyes - an interesting experience to say the least.

From what I can tell, this is the first book where Ramses feelings for Nefret are revealed, but I know that it is going to be a long time before this particular thread of the storyline is way or another.

For me at least the mystery took a backseat in this book - not because it was boring or bad or anything like that, but more because the developments between our main characters was much more interesting and the other events in the book really just seemed to provide the framework for the more important, longer term developments in the novel.

Another very enjoyable Amelia Peabody mystery!

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