I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Mummy Case by Elizabeth Peters
Genres: Historical, Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Published by William Morrow on March 17, 2009
Source: my own shelves
Also by this author: The Painted Queen, Crocodile on the Sandbank, The Curse of the Pharaohs, Lion in the Valley
Third in the Amelia Peabody amateur sleuth historical mystery series and revolving around a late Victorian feminist with a passion for Egyptian archeology. The focus is on Peabody, Emerson, and Ramses.
Yep, it’s Ramses’ first trip to Egypt, and with that in mind, know that Peters is using first person protagonist point-of-view from Peabody’s perspective. Ahem.
“Marriage, in my view, should be a balanced stalemate between equal adversaries.”
That pretty much sums up Amelia Peabody’s take on life. She is pragmatic and provides us with her reasons for marrying Emerson. Including that she sees him as her equal. As for her approach to having a child, well, at least Amelia timed it well so she could get back to the desert and their excavations.
As for Peabody’s approach to her son, she is uncommonly and delightfully realistic about it — “He needed something — a stout healthy woman who had trained as a prison wardress . . .” or how appalled Peabody is when an old woman blesses her to have many sons, ROFLMAO. Ramses is fascinating in his speech. You’d NEVER believe someone this young could be so erudite. Or adhere so strictly to the rules, lol.
Both Peabody and Emerson are amazingly calm about Ramses wanting to explore and have his own excavation site. As for those rules, it’s lucky Ramses chooses which ones to follow *more laughter*.
I see both Peabody and Emerson as hypocritical. She despises people who don’t treat the Egyptians as people, and yet she has her own scathing assessments. While Emerson is enjoyable in his refusal to adhere to societal manners, he puts down Peabody’s imagination, and later he appropriates them himself. He also sees himself as the best and believes that everyone will lie down for him. I have to love how they both adhere to a preference for intelligent encounters. I doubt I’d enjoy their neighbors either, lol.
“I was, of course, obeyed to the letter.”
Okay, Peabody can also be forbearing, as she doesn’t confront Emerson about his hubris, but she doesn’t hesitate to jump all over John when he falls in love. Oy. Don’t get me wrong, I do like her character, if only for her having no time for pussyfooting around or adhering to silly female costume or . . . you name it, lol.
There’s also the fact that most of the people around Peabody are terrified by her flights of investigative fancy.
Then there are those lovely reminders of the time period, such as that new fad of pajamas.
It’s a great combination of character- and action-driven with a good pace to it. The flowery language of Peabody, Emerson, and Ramses will crack you up with their verbosity. Especially when Peabody is calling Ramses down for what she herself does, lol.
An antiquities dealer is murdered in his own shop and sparks Peabody’s interest. Then a second sighting of the sinister stranger from the crime scene appears at their barren dig, increasing Amelia’s curiosity.
But when the Emersons start digging for answers, events take a darker and deadlier turn — and there may be no surviving the very modern terrors their efforts reveal.
The imperious Amelia Peabody Emerson, a.k.a. Sitt Hakim, is married to the hot-tempered Prof Radcliffe Emerson, who knows more than any other archeologist. Walter “Ramses” Emerson is their very precocious, loquacious, and very young son. The cat Bastet is Ramses’ faithful companion (The Curse of the Pharaohs, 2).
Rose is their housemaid in England and assists Peabody as her maid as needed. Wilkins is the butler. John is the footman who goes to Egypt with them. He has an interesting backstory!
Prof Walter Emerson is Radcliffe’s younger brother and an expert in hieroglyphics. He’s married to Evelyn (Crocodile on the Sandbank, 1), and they have four children: Radcliffe “Raddie”; the twins, Johnny and Willy; and, Melia, the youngest.
Other archeologists include Petrie; Naville is a Swiss archeologist; Howard Carter is Naville’s assistant; Insinger is Dutch; Prince Kalenischeff is a jerk; Belzoni, a former circus strongman, had been an insult to archeologists everywhere; and, Perring and Vyse. Previous heads of the Department of Antiquities include Grebaut and Maspero. Sheik Mohammed is a friend. Both The Revered Sayce, who was just appointed to the chair of Assyriology at Oxford, and Wilberforce, a renegade politician, a.k.a. Father of a Beard, are excellent scholars. Cromer?
Aziyeh is the village where Emerson recruits his skilled workers and where Abdullah ibn Hassan al Wahhab, the Emersons’ reis, lives.
Abd el Atti is an antiquities dealer. Mr Aslimi is his son. Hassan is the widow’s son. The Khan el Khaleel is the bazaar of the metalworkers. Kriticas is another antiquities dealer and a rival of Atti’s. Chauncy Murch is a Protestant missionary.
Siim issaagha is the argot of the gold- and silver-sellers of Cairo.
Mazghunah is . . .
. . . the dig Emerson gets. Truly an insult. Abdullah’s team includes four of his sons, including Feisal, Ali, and the young Selim. Hamid claims to be from Manawat.
Dronkeh is . . .
. . . a small village near Mazghunah. Father Girgis is the priest of the Coptic church of Sitt Miriam. Mustafa is one of his acolytes. The Brethren of the Holy Jerusalem are missionaries, represented in Dronkeh by the oppressive The Reverend Ezekiel Jones; his sister Sister Charity Jones; and, the gorgeous Brother David Cabot of the Boston Cabots.
The vulgar but insightful Baroness von Hohensteinbauergrunewald is a dilettante. The Countess of Westmoreland pops up.
Dashoor is . . .
. . . the dig Emerson had wanted. M. de Morgan, a mining engineer, is the head of the Department of Antiquities, and he’s taken Dashoor for his own. Mazeppa is his stallion.
Wallis Budge is with the British Museum and takes delight in outwitting the antiquities officials.
The Cover and Title
The cover is framed on the left and right with a turquoise and brown horizontally striped border. Inside this is a black background, that cuts into the borders to allow for the author’s first name with the second name below; both are in an art deco-like font in gold. Above this at the very top is a testimonial and an info blurb in white. Beneath the author’s name is the series information within a narrow band, pointed on the ends, providing a gold background for the brown text. Below this is a graphic framed in a thin gold line. Within, its background is a scene from the desert with pyramids in the background under a beautiful blue sky. In the foreground is the top of a painted mummy case with “de cat Bastet” on top of it. Above Bastet is the title in white.
The title is the focus of this mysterious state of affairs, The Mummy Case.