The Ape Who Guards The Balance: An Amelia Peabody Novel of Suspense Mass Market Paperback – Feb 2 2010
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Named 1998 Grand Master by Mystery Writers of America, Elizabeth Peters is also a doctor of Egyptology whose mysteries have submerged readers in the vivid turn-of-the-century world of Amelia Peabody. In The Ape Who Guards the Balance Peters captures the immediacy of uncovering a new Egyptian tomb within the context of a tightly plotted murder investigation involving the entire Emerson Peabody clan. The characters, including Amelia's husband, Radcliffe Emerson, and her gifted son, Ramses, are meticulously drawn. As in previous novels the dialogue is reminiscent of The Thin Man. When a man calls out to passing suffragettes, "You ought to be 'ome washin' your 'usband's trousers!" Ramses shoots back, "I assure you, sir, the lady's trousers are not in such sore need of laundering as your own." Peters also toys with differing narrative perspectives, and Ramses emerges as a possible successor to his mother's legacy of crime solving.
The Ape Who Guards the Balance begins in 1907 in England where Amelia is attending a suffragettes' rally outside the home of Mr. Geoffrey Romer of the House of Commons. It seems Romer is one of the few remaining private collectors of Egyptian antiquities, and a series of bizarre events at the protest soon embroil Amelia in grave personal danger. Suspecting that the Master Criminal, Sethos, is behind their problems, the Emerson Peabodys hasten to Egypt to continue their studies in the Valley of Kings where they soon acquire a papyrus of the Book of the Dead. As with past seasons, however, their archaeological expedition is interrupted. The murdered body of a woman is found in the Nile. Ramses, Radcliffe, and Amelia all have their theories as to the origin of the crime, but their own lives might soon be at stake if the cult of Thoth and their ancient book is, indeed, involved.
Other Peabody mysteries include Seeing a Large Cat, The Hippopotamus Pool, The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog, The Deeds of the Disturber, Lion in the Valley, The Curse of the Pharaohs, and Crocodile on the Sandbank. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In April of this year, Peters, who has been writing mysteries for 30 years, was honored as a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. This captivating novel, her 10th Amelia Peabody tale (following Seeing a Large Cat, 1997), validates her peers' high regard. Prospects for the 1907 excavation season in Egypt seem lackluster for the Emersons, since Professor Emerson, Amelia's beloved husband, can't abide the fools who administrate such activities?and makes no secret of that fact. But the family, including their adult son, Ramses, and his foster siblings, Nefret and David, departs for Egypt nevertheless after incidents in London point to the resurfacing of their old nemesis, known as the Master Criminal. The younger generation buys an ancient papyrus from an antiquities dealer and sets in motion a sinister chain of events. Two horrendous murders draw all of the Emersons further into the fray, and at times it seems as if the Master Criminal and his minions will at last best Amelia. But by drawing on the skills of all, the Emerson contingent once again brings villains to justice. The plot is complicated and involving, but the maturing of Ramses, Nefret and David offers particular pleasure and gives the book depth and poignance. Rich in characterization, incident and humor, this latest adventure of Amelia Peabody is a grand, galloping adventure with a heart as big as the Great Pyramid itself. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
For the first time the clerk in my bookstore approved of my choice. She was a devoted fan of the Amelia Peabody series. I was sure to love it. Before this she had failed to comment on any of my bi-weekly mystery selections. I sensed I was in for something special.
The quality of writing did not disappoint. The archeology felt authentic. I learned a lot about excavating Egypt. The settings seemed appropriate to the times and circumstances. I even lamented the intrusion of industrialization upon gentler traditions. I was reminded of Merchant & Ivory.
The Emersons could have been so much more compelling. They are a liberally-collected rainbow group who would be welcomed and entertained at most sophisticated social events of OUR time, but would xenophic and racist Londoners toward the end of Victoria's reign been so kind to compatriots who had "gone native"? Yet it was the mixed backgrounds of two of the "children" that I thought could have yielded the most interest.
What was uninteresting to me was how physically attractive they had to be. Emerson's "steely arms" and "muscular chest"; Ramses' physical stature and attraction for women; David's appearance being similar to Ramses with "the long-lashed dark eyes"; and "strikingly pretty, extremely intelligent" Nefret was even blessed with laughter "like sunlit water bubbling over pebbles". Peabody herself was able to look good in any outfit while being the object of a Master Criminal's desires.Read more ›
The mystery is not a terribly interesting one; the opening chapter makes it clear that Sethos is back and that there will be even more people creeping about in various disguises than usual (this is possibly the weakness of this series in general). Sethos I can handle, but the villain of this book was tiresome the first two times she popped up and is even worse in this round. Peters undercuts any feminist agenda she might have by inadvertently making a key villainess far less compelling than one-shot villains like Riccetti and Pesanker. Bring back Lady Baskerville, if you must, but no more of this!
As for the personal travails of the Emerson clan... the troubles foreshadowed in the previous book are hinted at more and more strongly here, and then the images of a fratricidal tangle over Nefret resolve abruptly in a way that might be realistic in life but is unsatisfying as fiction. Some people fall in love, some are revealed as latent racists who turn upon their loved ones in times of stress, some die, and some stay the same. None of this turmoil is terribly affecting-and this is in the tenth volume of a series I've devoted much time and mental energy to, a series whose characters are 'people' I enjoy spending time with!
I feel the series soared back on course with Falcon at the Portal, and reached higher still with He Shall Thunder in the Sky, but Ape just didn't cohere.
You probably wonder why I kept reading it. Metaphorically speaking, it was like a train wreck, or the car wreck that you have to slow down and observe (by the way, notice how I just spoke down to you because your limited intellect would have NEVER known that I was speaking metaphorically unless I told you!). I thought that nobody could be this bad at telling a story. You know, I was wrong! This book made the The Celestine Prophecy seem good in comparison (another book that I have issues).
So, I really feel sorry for the readers that think this is good writing! If you do, you might want to check out The Celestine Prophecy (very preachy and you don't have to think).
Most recent customer reviews
I always eagerly await the next Amelia Peabody adventure, and this was worth the wait. Peters had plateaued for awhile, but her latest Amelia tales have recovered the charm and... Read morePublished on March 8 2004 by Anna Stanford
The Master Criminal, one of the best characters in the Amelia Peabody series, returns in The Ape Who Guards the Balance. Read morePublished on Jan. 24 2004 by K. Turner
Fans of Amelia Peabody and her willful entourage will enjoy this addition to the series. As a stand-alone story it leaves much to be desired. Read morePublished on Oct. 10 2001 by Diane Davis
I do not read many mystery novels - generally, I read the first and last five pages, to see the problem and its solution. Read morePublished on Jan. 18 2001
I will admit, I don't read much fiction. Especially not modern fiction. But, being something of an Egyptology enthusiast (small wonder, since I am mother to one) I decided to give... Read morePublished on Dec 10 2000
Involving Amelia and her Egyptologist husband, Radcliffe Emerson, their gifted son Ramses as well as David and Nefret, this novel begins in 1907 in England where Amelia attends a... Read morePublished on Aug. 17 2000 by Francesca Jourdan
Adventurous Egyptologist Amelia Peabody is embroiled in another affair of intrigue and homicide in Elizabeth Peters' "The Ape Who Guards the Balance. Read morePublished on May 5 2000 by Justin Anderson
Elizabeth Peters' "The Ape Who Guards the Balance" is an installment of her Amelia Peabody mysteries. It is set in England and later Luxor in the early 20th century. Read morePublished on May 2 2000 by Joe Quadres