Equipped with financial resources and a strong spirit, Amelia Peabody seeks adventure by taking an extended tour of Egypt. During a stop in Rome, Amelia comes across a young English woman lying on the street. Disheveled and malnourished, Evelyn Barton-Forbes has been abandoned by her Italian lover and, having disgraced her family, cannot return to England. Since Amelia’s traveling companion also canceled plans, she invites Evelyn to join her. In Egypt, they meet the Emerson brothers, whose archeological expedition becomes entwined with their own adventure in ways Amelia could not have foreseen. The appearance of a walking mummy at an excavation site terrifies the locals, but Amelia is not so easily alarmed until it comes after Evelyn.
Crocodile on the Sandbank, is the first in Elizabeth Peters’ series, and I can see why these books have been so popular. A strong, no-nonsense character rebelling against the rules and restrictions of Victorian England presents plenty of internal conflict for Amelia, but she’s smart and resourceful enough to build a life for herself away from disapproving eyes.
It’s refreshing to read a novel that isn’t centered around a murder, but rather the threat of danger. Peters’ descriptions of Egypt and her action scenes are so vivid and detailed that it kept me turning the pages. She also managed to create a relaxed pace while steadily mounting the tension. Although the book was published in 1975, Peters captures the tone of Victorian England well, and even directly addresses the reader as authors often did during that period. My only quibble is that the guilty parties were obvious from the get-go. Still, I’ll definitely read more just for the lovely writing.