Crocodile on the Sandbank
Amelia Peabody #1
by Elizabeth Peters
read by Susan O’Malley
My rating: 3 / 5
Genre: Historical cozy mystery
As a female during the Victorian era in England, Amelia Peabody is ahead of her time. Unmarried and independently wealthy, she has no need for a man or most of societal conventions. With a passion for Egyptology and a thirst for adventure, she decides to travel to Cairo, taking into her company along the way a young woman whose reputation has been tarnished. Amelia gets the adventure she’s looking for, and more, when a missing mummy begins to terrorize the women.
I was not a huge fan of this book for the most part. Amelia’s attitude, which is the main thing that most other readers seem to love, just irritated me most of the time. Her haughtiness and aggressiveness was just too much. I listened to the audiobook, and the reader did such a good job infusing the 1st-person narration with arrogance and disdain that it only added to my dislike for Amelia. Add to that the mystery being a bit light–took a long time to get going and was mostly easy to solve–and Amelia’s disdain for Christianity, and it wasn’t a particularly enjoyable read for me.
There were parts of the book that I found interesting–the descriptions of excavation and archaeology in those days, as well as travel by the dahabiyas (luxury boats) on the Nile. However, by the time I was halfway through, I’d decided I wouldn’t continue the series after the first book. Now that it’s been a few days since I finished it, I think I may give it another try. The next book is set somewhere around 6 years after the first one, and it looks like many things will be different. As for this first book, though, I do think others might appreciate it more than I did, so if it sounds interesting, be sure to check out other reviews and consider giving this book a try.
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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!
2 thoughts on “Book Review: Crocodile on the Sandbank”
Absolutely a fair review, although if you read more in the series, you’ll see that Amelia far from disdainful of Christianity–she’s actually the only devoted Christian in her nuclear family. Also, the mysteries (and the romances) get better, and you start to view Amelia the way her family does: by fondly ignoring her bravado. She always says stuff like “Of course, this idea had already occurred to me….” And you just have to shake your head and laugh, because you know that Peters wrote that line tongue-in-cheek, and that she’s laughing at Amelia with you.
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I really did like Emerson, and even the relationship that developed between them. That’s probably the main reason that led me to go on to the 2nd book. And there were things I really liked about that 2nd book too, while Amelia herself still annoyed me terribly. However, I really do think that the narrator just heightened Amelia’s annoying parts way too much. But I think if I just move on with the physical books, I’ll only be able to hear her voice in my head. So I’m going to try the first book again with a different narrator (one my sister, who recommended the book in the first place, says should be better) as soon as I can get access to a version with that different narrator. The series overall does seem up my alley, and I am not ready to give up on it yet. I appreciate your comment, because it has further renewed my interest and given me a different perspective, which I think might be helpful when I try this book again.