The Serpent On The Crown Mass Market Paperback – Mar 2 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. MWA Grand Master Peters delivers another winner that you can't put down and yet don't want to see end, the 17th entry in her bestselling series to feature Egyptologist Amelia Peabody Emerson and her extended family (after 2004's Guardian of the Horizon). Early in 1922, novelist Magda Petherick, the widow of noted collector Pringle Petherick, interrupts the tea that the Emerson clan are enjoying on the veranda of their house by the Nile. Mrs. Petherick wants Emerson, Amelia's eminent archeologist husband, to dispose of a beautiful golden statuette that Pringle acquired shortly before his death because she believes it carries a curse. All are intrigued. News travels fast, and such a magnificent artifact soon attracts all manner of collectors, museum authorities, journalists and evildoers. Emerson's illegitimate half-brother, Sethos, formerly a dealer in illegal antiquities, arrives in disguise, but unfortunately he's followed by the gentleman he's impersonating. Tomb excavations, mountain treks, brutal attacks, an abduction, an exorcism and murder keep the plot hopping. The author's droll sense of humor and picture of a leisurely and less complicated age add to the appeal. Agent, Dominick Abel. (On sale Mar. 29)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The year is 1922, and Amelia Peabody, Emerson, Ramses, and their familiar company have returned to Egypt for another season of excavation. Before they have a chance to begin, however, they receive an unexpected visitor, flamboyant writer Magda Petherick, who spins an outrageous story about a cursed artifact and implores Emerson to exorcise its demon. Of course, no one falls for Petherick's elaborate yarn, but the beautiful statuette piques Egyptologist Emerson's interest enough to convince him an investigation of its history is in order. In the meantime, Petherick turns up dead, someone attempts to "liberate" the artifact, and two attempts are made on Ramses' life. It's a delicious setup for Peabody to exercise her special talents. The espionage complications of previous books evaporated with the end of World War I, leaving this a more routine adventure. But, as usual, Peters injects plenty of humorous banter, lots of bluster from Emerson, and enough coy swipes at Victorian propriety to keep the story lively. There's even a little surprise at the close. A pleasant addition to the long-running series. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The story begins with the Amelia Peabody and her Archeologist huband, Emerson and thier Son Ramses and his wife, all returning to the Valley of the Kings after the end of the first world War after a war long ban on all archeological activities. Soon after the Family arrives they are visited by Magda Petherick, a famous writer, who claims that a golden idol in her possesion is resposible for the death of her husband, and will also cliam her life if not returned to the tomb from which it was stolen!
Of course Amelia and her family get involved in solving the Mystery of the Golden idol. I won't say more as I don't wan't to spoil the fun! but there are plenty of clever twists and turns, and enough action to keep the pages turning. Besides the good Mystery yarn you can tell the author has done her research concerning ancient Egypt and the ruin sites. If I fault the book for anything it is not as "hard boiled" as I like them, but that is a matter of taste. I will be checking out the other books in the series!
Set in 1922, you won't find many contemporary references. In a way that's good because this book could have occurred in virtually any year from 1860 through to 1935.
Magda Petherick is the first of several people to barge in on Amelia Peabody and her family as the story opens. Mrs. Petherick is the recent widow of Pringle Petherick who has assembled a renowned collection of Egyptian antiquities. Mrs. Petherick reveals one of his last purchases, an unbelievably gorgeous golden head that is supposed to be cursed. She asks that Emerson take charge of putting the head back where it came from in order to avoid the curse. She says she has seen a dark spirit twice and fears that the third time will cost her life.
But Mrs. Petherick is also a famous vampire novelist, and it seems too convenient to be a true story. Could it be simply a publicity stunt?
Those concerns begin to draft away when Mrs. Petherick disappears and Amelia's household is disrupted by regular intrusions that seem aimed at capturing the head.
In the meantime, Amelia persuades Emerson to let Ramses pursue his translation work rather than toiling constantly in excavation work.
Before long, the attacks become more serious . . . and threaten the whole family!
While no single aspect of this story is outstanding, there is considerable balance in the tale. The narration alternates between Amelia and Ramses. About a dozen characters have decent development in the story. I found that the book built momentum as it went on, and I enjoyed the second half more than the first.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It's 1922, and with the long ban on archeological activities finally lifted, the Emerson family (noted archeologist Professor Emerson, his wife Amelia Peabody, their son, Ramses and Ramses' wife, Nefret, along with their precocious 4 year old twins) are back in Egypt, hoping to carry on their work of delving into the long hidden mysteries of the past. But their enterprise is soon interrupted when Mrs. Pringle Petherick, comes to them for help. Mrs. Petherick (otherwise known as Magda von Ormond, authoress of several sensational vampire novels), the widow of Pringle Petherick, a well known collector of ancient Egyptian artifacts, believes that one of her husband's acquisitions, is cursed, that her husband died of the curse, and that the curse has been transferred onto her. What Mrs. Pringle wants is to leave the artifact with Emerson to perform an exorcism, lifting the curse, and for Emerson to return the artifact to the tomb from which it was stolen. While neither Emerson nor his canny wife, Amelia, believe that the Petherick widow really believes in the curse, they are intrigued by the artifact itself: a golden figure of a crowned king, probably from time of the heretical king, Akhenaton. But which tomb did the unscrupulous thieves discover the artifact in, and where is it? As Emerson, Amelia and the rest hunker down to find the artifact's true place of origin, things become further perplexing when the widow's stepchildren demand the return of the artifact, and the widow goes missing. Is the widow a victim of the "curse?" Or is she playing some deeper game? Fortunately, Amelia and Emerson have a host of friends and relatives (most notedly, Emerson's rogue half-brother, Sethos) to help sift fact from fiction...
Never mind that compared to earlier works the mystery subplot is not very compelling, and that the suspicious characters are easy to pinpoint from the very beginning, "The Serpent of the Crown" was still a very suspenseful and intriguing read, and was just pure fun to read. I enjoyed catching up with the Emerson-Peabody clan and all their friends (will Bertie ever win Jumana's affections? I'm hoping that he finally does!); and this subplot to do with Akhenaton and Tutankhamon was a nice touch -- though I'd have liked it if there had been a little more on this. All in all though, "The Serpent on the Crown" was a very enjoyable, engrossing and engaging read, full of excitement and humour, and a real treat of a read. An enthralling read!
The Serpent On The Crown brings us once again to Egypt and the Valley of the Kings, where the Emersons prepare for the 1922 season of excavation and research. As sudden visit in the night leaves Amelia, her husband Radcliffe, and their children Ramses and Nefret in the possession of a mysterious gold statuette of incalculable worth, Emerson having sworn to the woman who left it with them to end the curse by returning it to its rightful tomb.
Easier said than done in the Valley of the Kings where tombs are more common than camels. While the statuette is unmistakably from the era of Tutankhamon few such burials are known. Undaunted, Emerson sets about three excavations at once, starts investigation in Cairo and even far off London, and even goes so far as to bring in his brother Sethos, the master thief. With great scurrying on all fronts we know that, once again, the Emersons have found trouble, and sooner or later there will be a body.
As usual in a Peters mystery, comedy and the serious job is investigation mix perfectly. Chicanery abounds, there are villains under every rock, and secrets in even the most barren of tombs. This is a cozy, but a cozy in the best sense, with enough action and plot to carry the reader's interest straight through to the end. For those that are just starting out this book stands well on its own. Peters is quite good about slipping the reader just enough information to keep one from feeling lost. But by all means start from the beginning if you can and get to know one of the strangest families in detective fiction.
Dr. Emerson's dubious fame for dispelling curses and Amelia's reputation for her medical skills and for solving mysteries have drawn Mrs. Petherick to the Emerson estate on the Nile. Soon after, Mrs. Petherick vanishes. Has the curse struck again? Word spreads of the infamous statuette's location, placing the entire Emerson household --- which includes their son Ramses, his wife Nefret, and four-year-old twins --- in jeopardy.
Ramses has matured into an expert hieroglyphics translator whose two children are every bit as precocious as he was, much to his mother's delight. His wife is trained as a physician, and both are carrying on the family tradition.
Nefret's medical skills will be called upon as Amelia faces a crisis that threatens her life. Is the statuette really cursed? Will Emerson's exorcism drive away all, human or otherwise, who seek to reclaim the treasure and return it to its rightful home?
THE SERPENT ON THE CROWN is #17 in this enormously popular mystery series that spans the Victorian era through World War I. While the series is not strictly a roman a clef, Elizabeth Peters injects so many actual events, famous archaeological sites, ancient rulers, and even real archaeologists into the story that they ring with authenticity. I was surprised and pleased to find a former neighbor, Ambrose Lansing, who was an Egyptologist with the New York Metropolitan Museum in the early 20th century, making cameo appearances in the last few books.
Peters holds a Ph.D. in Egyptology and recently published a coffee table book, AMELIA PEABODY'S EGYPT: A Compendium, which is part fiction and part history about the Valley of the Kings. Her credentials on Egyptian exploration are impeccable, which makes these cozy mysteries all the more entertaining and informative. For new readers, the search for early editions should start with CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK where the young, single and adventurous Amelia Peabody first alights in Egypt in the late 1800s. Longtime fans have followed her romance with the dashing Emerson, birth of the impossible son, Ramses, and cheered as Amelia triumphs over mischief, evil and an insufferable husband to become one of mystery fiction's most popular heroines.
In the last five books, Elizabeth Peters has invoked a third-person narrative she calls "Manuscript H," which is an opportunity for her grown son and his wife to make observations from a different point of view. This device allows the reader to see the action outside of the first-person voice, which helps to create a broader perspective on the action.
--- Reviewed by Roz Shea