Crocodile on the SandbankMystery, Romance
Series: Amelia Peabody #1
Amelia Peabody is Elizabeth Peters' most brilliant and best-loved creation, a thoroughly Victorian feminist who takes the stuffy world of archaeology by storm with her shocking men's pants and no-nonsense attitude!
In this first adventure, our headstrong heroine decides to use her substantial inheritance to see the world. On her travels, she rescues a gentlewoman in distress - Evelyn Barton-Forbes - and the two become friends. The two companions continue to Egypt where they face mysteries, mummies and the redoubtable Radcliffe Emerson, an outspoken archaeologist, who doesn't need women to help him solve mysteries -- at least, that's what he thinks.
The main problem with The Crocodile on the Sandbank is that it’s impossible to tell whether Peters was trying to write about period-appropriate attitudes, or whether the racism is ingrained. Either way, it doesn’t sit comfortably for a modern reader, at least without some sense that it’s on purpose: Amelia Peabody is so close to modern in some ways that it feels jarring when she’s a typical colonialist Brit of the period. At the same time, the fact that other details strive for period accuracy suggests it may be (at least in part) for the sake of verisimilitude.
As it is, I ended up trying to read it with my “enthusiast of classic crime” hat on, since it comes out of that mould. And in that light, it’s pretty enjoyable; I thought the mystery a little obvious, but it also makes sense that the headstrong characters don’t communicate and put things together because they’re too busy being headstrong.
I do love books set in and around Egypt, so it also fits into that craving for me, which made it extra enjoyable.
I’ll give the next book a try, though whether I keep up somewhat depends on where we’re going next (in terms of plot: I gather Egypt remains our location, based on the next couple of titles).