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by Elizabeth Peters

Avon, 2000

Reviewed by Jennifer Ashley

The latest installment in the Amelia Peabody series finds Amelia and the Emersons in Egypt just after the outbreak of World War I. Egypt has been put under martial law by the British government for fear of an uprising among the Egyptians.

In Cairo, the Emersons settle down to a season of excavation at Giza. Ramses has become persona non grata in Cairo, because he has not volunteered to join the British army. His cousin, Percy, unfortunately, has joined up, and of course rubs everyone’s nose in the fact. David, who has connections to the Egyptian underground movement, has been transported to India for his own safety, to wait out the war there.

But the Emersons’ archeological season can never stay quiet for long. Almost at once, Emerson is asked by the police to help catch the leader of the underground movement, and from there, chaos ensues. Amelia, Emerson, Ramses, and Nefret find themselves caught up in intrigue, politics, and mayhem.

Mixed in with Amelia’s narrative is Ramses’s own account of events, including his confused feelings toward Nefret. Some truths about her elopement in the previous book are revealed, and Ramses must decide whether to continue to pursue her or to finally give up.

I found this book the most focused Amelia Peabody story that has appeared in some time. Most of the books in this series throw in thread after thread and subplot after subplot that might or might not be linked. This book, however, concentrates on the Cairene underground movement in relation to World War I and the Emersons’ involvement in it. And yes, Sethos makes an appearance-and reveals some surprising information about himself.

The book finally solves the Nefret/Ramses question (which I frankly was getting tired of), and ends with some closure regarding Sethos-could this be the last book of the series? The story closes on a logical note, but here’s hoping more stories about the irrepressible Emerson family come to light.

New readers to the series should start with earlier books-I would recommend anything that predates THE LAST CAMEL DIED AT NOON. (The first book is CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK.)

Other titles reviewed from this series include: THE APE WHO GUARDS THE BALANCE and THE FALCON AT THE PORTAL.

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