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TOMB OF THE GOLDEN BIRD
By Elizabeth Peters
Morrow, 2006 ($25.95)
Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel
October, 1922. The archaeological Emerson clan is in Egypt for another season, and Radcliffe Emerson is sure a major find is waiting there for the lucky archaeologist who has permission to excavate in the right place. Unfortunately, he is not that archaeologist. It was commonly thought that all the royal tombs had been found in the Valley of the Kings, but Emerson thinks otherwise. In trying to dissuade the wealthy Lord Carnavon and his hired archaeologist, Howard Carter, from continuing their work there so that he can have a chance, he arouses their interest in staying for just one more season. The Emersons had befriended Carter years ago, and stood by him when he fell onto hard times. Now, with the backing of Lord Carnavon, Carter doesn't need his old friend's help, and Emerson's short temper and lack of tact ensures that Carnavon will prevent him from being involved in any way in what may be the find of the century. Not that it stops him from trying.
Someone is following the Emersons, searching their hotel rooms, questioning their servants and even their grandchildren, son Ramses' precocious twins Charla and David John. They are not sure why, but suspect it has something to do with Radcliffe's half-brother, Sethos, former Master Criminal turned war hero and member of the British secret service. There is political tension in Egypt, as various factions try to take control of the government. A top-secret document has gone missing, and there are those who will stop at nothing to get it back.
I've been looking forward to this installment of the Emerson family saga for some time. The real-life discovery of King Tutankhamen's tomb has been foreshadowed in previous books, including the discovery of a gold statue that surely came from that tomb in THE SERPENT ON THE CROWN. I love the way the Emersons manage to get in on the excitement, refusing to be thwarted by Carnavon's roadblocks. I love even more the implications that Professor Emerson might have had a hand in loosing the Curse of the Mummy on Carnavon and his crew. Once again, Peters has made history come alive, with the occasional wink and a nod about what might have happened, had Peabody, Emerson and their colorful band been on the scene when King Tut's tomb was revealed to the world.
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