The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog by Elizabeth Peters

Posted January 12, 2022 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog by Elizabeth Peters

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 Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog by Elizabeth Peters
Genres: Mystery, Amateur Sleuth, Historical
Published by Grand Central Publishing on March 1, 2010
Pages: 452
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: The Painted Queen, Crocodile on the Sandbank, The Curse of the Pharaohs, The Mummy Case, Lion in the Valley, The Deeds of the Disturber, The Last Camel Died at Noon, The Hippopotamus Pool, Seeing a Large Cat, The Ape Who Guards the Balance, Guardian of the Horizon, A River in the Sky, He Shall Thunder in the Sky, The Falcon at the Portal

Seventh in the Amelia Peabody series about an amateur sleuth in an historical mystery. It’s the turn of the century and the focus is on helping Emerson remember who Peabody is to him.

In 1992, The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best Novel.

My Take

Not one of the stronger Amelia Peabodys, it was amusing to read as Amelia agonized over (and protected) the Professor’s memory loss nor did Ramses disappoint in his erudition, adventurous planning, or with his self-acknowledgement. I am enjoying watching him grow up.

It’s full of twists and turns, deceptions and masquerades, treachery, and . . . how the Emersons can be deceived that easily, I do not know. It doesn’t help that half the family is back in England and both are being attacked and burglarized!

Peters/Amelia does a recap of her life at home with her father — lucky for her that she had an absentee father. Of course this is all through first person protagonist point-of-view from Peabody’s perspective. This is the first time Peters refers to Amelia’s inheritance as a modest fortune.

Emerson is a rare man, for he does accept Peabody as a full partner. Sure, he wants to protect her, but he knows it’s useless, lol. He is true to himself and he doesn’t suffer fools. At all. Part of the reason he’s known throughout Egypt as the Father of Curses. Ramses definitely takes after both parents. He doesn’t suffer fools and is more interested in learning, especially languages, and doesn’t see what his age should have to do with anything, including manners.

It did crack me up (and Peabody is too accurate) when Ramses is “struck dumb” by Nefret. The boy is in thrall! It’s Nefret’s rescue that leads to a new conflict in the series, for Victorians are anxious to find scandal anywhere, and Nefret’s upbringing is full of scandalous possibilities. It’s a conflict abetted by Kevin’s character for he can’t resist a good story.

Ooh, yet more conflict . . . Peabody is worried that Emerson doesn’t care anymore!

Peters reinforces the Emerson love of knowledge with Walter acknowledging that Nefret is “a human Rosetta Stone”.

Then poor Peabody, wondering if she’s the best mentor for a girl. I think she’s the best choice, for she won’t fill Nefret’s head with stupid social niceties. Then again, Peabody does revel in not having any children along as they sail for Egypt, lol.

The English schoolgirls Nefret meets don’t represent the noble English very well, although they do inspire Nefret to learn about her new life. It’s Nefret’s choices about this that will lead Ramses to choose to stay in England as well.

This could be interesting. Emerson is proposing they pick a site and stay there until everything is found. Hmmm. They’ll need a larger staff and a bigger house . . . so Emerson can avoid the hotels, lol.

I do enjoy Peabody’s obsession with practical dress. There is a useful bit of info about the air conditioning of the Middle Ages. Very practical!

It’s a mystery at the start of every story for Peabody as to where they’ll be excavating. Emerson has ticked off most every authority there is that hands out the firmans for the year’s excavations, and he likes to wait until the very last second to inform Peabody.

It’s a major turning point in Amelia and Abdullah’s relationship. Of course, all it took was Emerson losing his memories. It was too, too funny as Peabody struggles with Emerson treating her as he did in the beginning, and she hasn’t even told him about Ramses.

As usual, the prose is florid and yet it moves along with plenty of action, after all it’s Peabody and Emerson with a body every year, lol.

It’s an interesting recap at the end and does explain quite a bit. Except for how unwitting Peabody was . . . sigh . . .

The Story

It’s the False Pyramid this year, El Haram el-Kaddâb surrounded by mastabas, when Emerson is kidnapped!

The Characters

Amelia Peabody, a.k.a. Sitt Hakim (Lady Doctor), had intended to be a spinster until she met Professor Radcliffe Emerson while she was touring archeological sites in Egypt. Emerson is also known as the Father of Curses for his temper. Walter “Ramses” Emerson is their ten-year-old son. The cat Bastet is Ramses’ shadow. They took in the thirteen-year-old Nefret Forth in The Last Camel Died at Noon, 6, when they rescued her from the Lost Oasis. Amarna House is the Emersons’ English home base in Kent where servants stay only if they can survive the Emerson lifestyle. Gargery is the butler; Rose is the housemaid and not enthused about Nefret; Bob and Jerry are the strongest of the footmen; and, William is the coachman. The Philae had been Peabody’s dahabeeyah in Crocodile on the Sandbank, 1. Mazeppa is their horse.

Professor Walter Emerson is the professor’s younger brother and a star in the field of philology. He married Evelyn Barton-Forbes in Crocodile on the Sandbank, where her grandfather was the Earl of Ellesmere (he became the Duke of Chalfont in The Curse of the Pharaohs, 2). They know Nefret’s true story. Walter and Evelyn have six children, three boys and three girls. Raddie is the oldest, William and John are the twins, then Amelia. Chalfont Castle is their estate in Yorkshire; Chalfont House is their London home. Ellis is Evelyn’s new maid and Rose doesn’t trust her. No better than she should be, that one. Mary Ann is Evelyn’s parlormaid and responsible for the library. Wilkins is now Evelyn and Walter’s butler.

Inspector Cuff has retired to Dorking and his roses. Frank Griffith is one of Walter’s rivals. Ahmet the Louse died (The Deeds of the Disturber, 5).

Egypt
Abdullah ibn Hassan al Wahhab is the Emersons’ valued friend and reis, the foreman, of their team that includes Selim who is Ramses’ particular friend, Ali, Daoud, and Feisal (Abdullah’s oldest son).

Cyrus Vandergelt is a rich American friend who is an amateur archeologist who built his own house, “the Castle”, near the Valley of the Kings. He also has a dayabeeyayh, The Valley of the Kings, which Cyrus has replaced with the Nefertiti. Charles H Holly, a mining engineer for whom it is his first time in Egypt, and René D’Arcy, a skilled draftsman and graduate of the Sorbonne, are Cyrus’ assistants. Hoffman left Cyrus last year, and he is considering taking on Weigall.

Kevin O’Connell is the Irish star reporter for the Daily Yell, a sometimes friend of the Emersons. Shepheard’s is the Cairean hotel Amelia prefers and it’s now owned by its former manager, Mr Baehler. Sheikh Mohammed Bahsoor is a friend of Emerson’s in Cairo. Ahmet knows what’s going on. Murray is a student of Griffith who shows promise. Herr Doktor Sigismund Schadenfreude is a Viennese specialist in psychotherapy. Sir Evelyn Baring is the British Consul-General.

Amarna is/was . . .
. . . the dig where Peabody and Emerson first became involved. Mohammed is a villain and the son of the old mayor of Haggi Qandil (Crocodile on the Sandbank). Hassan ibn Mahmud and Yusuf are friends of Mohammed’s.

M. Maspero and Jacques de Morgan had both been directors of the Department of Antiquities. Amongst the “incompetent” archeologists are Loret (the current director); Petrie; the Reverend Sayce has a dahabeeyah, the Istar; the American Reisner; Daressy; Wallis Budge; Grebaut; and, Herr Bursch. Howard Carter. Neville has a talent for philology. Davies is a promising painter. Newberry is a botanist. Leopold Vincey has a bad reputation with women and after that sale to the Metropolitan Museum; Vincey had been excavating at Nimrud for Schamburg, a German millionaire. Anubis is Vincey’s brindle cat. Jackson. Herr Eberfelt is a German scholar; Herr Schmidt is his student. George McKenzie is an eccentric and had been terrible in his youth. Belzoni had been a hydraulics engineer and Italian strongman who first worked in the Valley of the Kings. Karl von Bork had been working in Berlin with Professor Sethe. Karl’s wife, Mary, has been ill.

General Kitchener. Lady Norton is at a ball. Lady Wallingford and daughter and Captain and Mrs Richardson are people in whom Emerson is not interested. Baskerville House played a role in The Curse of the Pharaohs. Mr Cook‘s steamers have become ubiquitous. Deir el Bahri is the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut, a female pharaoh.

Gurnah is . . .
. . . a notorious village in near Luxor in Egypt where live the hereditary tomb robbers. Many of whom are in Abdullah’s family.

Sethos is . . .
. . . the Master Criminal whom we first met in Lion in the Valley, 4, and who had controlled the illegal antiquities market.

Pat and Mike are part of a group of noisy young Americans. Schlange is European and keeps to himself. Bertha has struggled to make her way before becoming involved with Vincey.

Nefret’s only surviving relative was Franklin, Viscount Blacktower. Willie Forth, Blacktower’s heir, had been Nefret’s father. The escape of Slatin Pasha (formerly Slatin Bey), Father Ohrwalder, and two nuns gave Peabody ideas. General Rundle had been in the Sudan in The Last Camel Died at Noon, 6. Miss Helen Macintosh is the headmistress of a nearby girls’ school and a friend of Peabody’s. Some of her students include Winifred. Sir Henry was a visitor to the school.

Hieratic is a cursive, abbreviated form of hieroglyphic writing, and of which Walter is a leading authority. Sobek is a crocodile god. Ushebtis, a.k.a. shawbatis, are representations of servants for the one who has died.

The Cover and Title

The cover has its black background with a cutout on either side for the author’s first name. The vertical borders are a soft lime green and black of horizontal lines. At the top is a testimonial and then an info blurb in white. The author’s name is in an embossed gold with a gold cartouche (the ends are pointed) below it for the series info in black. In the lower half of the cover is a graphic close-up of three ruined pillars and a reddish hill in the background. In front of the left pillar is a coiled snake, a crocodile is coming between the first and second, and a brown and orange dog is alert behind the second pillar. The image is framed in gold. In the purple sky is the title in white.

The title is both an Egyptian fairytale Peabody is translating as well as a threat to Emerson: The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog .

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