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THE APE WHO GUARDS THE BALANCE
By Elizabeth Peters

Avon Books 1998

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Egyptologist Amelia Peabody Emerson now has her own dynasty as the younger generation of Emersons come of age and carry on their parentsí interest in archeology and their penchant for becoming entangled in mystery and danger.

In 1907 London, Amelia tries to get arrested at a suffragette protest and ends up in the midst of a clever robbery by The Master Criminal, the Emersonís chief nemesis of old. At their last meeting, he promised Amelia that he would never harm her or those she loved. Has he changed his mind? Her husband decides to go back to Egypt ahead of schedule to escape whoever was trying to do her harm. But, as usual, wherever the Emersons go, trouble follows.

The family is imperiled after Ramses, their teenage son, obtains a fine papyrus from a questionable source. That source soon ends up in the Nile, the apparent victim of a crocodile - but there havenít been any in the Nile in years. When another acquaintance meets the same fate, Amelia suspects that a murderous cult is responsible. Emerson still sees the fine hand of their arch enemy. It is up to the children, Ramses, the beautiful Nefret, one-time High Priestess of Isis, and David, grandson of their faithful assistant Abdullah and son of a thief, to sort out the truth.

Peters does a fine job of presenting the tale through multiple viewpoints, interweaving stories of star-crossed young lovers and social commentary on the plight of women at the turn of the century, seamlessly mixing in a hearty dash of historical characters and interesting bits of Egyptology. At one point Amelia assures the dejected Howard Carter that she is sure something good will come his way. Carter went on a few years later to discover the tomb of King Tut.

Most of the old familiar characters show up, both friends, like the American millionaire Vanderbilts, and enemies, mortal and otherwise. As always, the ending leaves the reader anxious for the next installment.


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