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The Falcon at the Portal: An Amelia Peabody Mystery

4.0 out of 5 stars 161 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Library Binding
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439519153
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439519158
  • Shipping Weight: 789 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 161 customer reviews
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Product Description

From Amazon

"'Really,' I thought in mounting exasperation, 'there never was a household in which so many people felt free to offer their unsolicited opinions!'" This, of course, is the eminent Egyptologist and dedicated crime solver Amelia Peabody, setting the stage and the tone (an updated Oscar Wildean irony) for Elizabeth Peters's 11th book. And it's true that there are no shrinking violets in this particular household, from the redoubtable Amelia and her hot-tempered archaeologist husband Emerson (his native diggers call him the Father of Curses), to their dashing, unpredictable son Ramses (born Walter). Also, let's not forget their lovely ward, Nefret (rescued from a desert tribe several books back), and their butler, Gargery, "who wields a cudgel as handily as he carves a roast."

As she has so many times before, Peters presents us with this quaint--even campy--little group of people, plops them down in an exotic Egyptian setting, and then surprises us by involving them in a story of great strength and emotion.

It's 1911, and David Todros, a young Egyptian who has just married into the Peabody family, is suspected of dealing in forged antiquities, possibly to help support a rising nationalist movement. Amelia, Emerson, Ramses, and Nefret all take various actions to help David, and there are serious, dangerous consequences for everyone involved. Despite the melodramatic setting and the theatrical language, Peters's story is--as always--modern, believable, and exciting.

Other books in the Peabody series available in paperback are The Ape Who Guards the Balance, The Crocodile on the Sandbank, The Curse of the Pharaohs, and The Hippopotamus Pool. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Fake artifacts, dead bodies, and a mysterious child demand Amelia Peabody's attention in her latest.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Falcon at the Portal was a new type of Amelia Peabody book for me. Very different to others in the series I have read, I did feel somewhat let down by it. The mystery storyline we have come to expect is, in this book, only incidental. Family drama is what Peters has given us instead. In the hands of a less accomplished writer, I would be tempted to call it melodrama. The difficulty for me is, The Deeds of the Disturber is the most recent book in the series I have read before this; so what may make sense in the context of the whole series came out of nowhere for me. The two-star rating is partly because, as well written as Falcon at the Portal is, this book is not what I've come to expect either from Peters or from her series.
The book opens with the wedding of Amelia's niece Lia to Egyptian family friend David - and the revelation that David is suspected of trading in stolen antiquities. This gives the whole Emerson clan a new mystery to look into when they travel to Egypt for their annual archaeological dig. The usual roll-call of old friends and new characters appears once the action shifts to Egypt - and one of them ends up dead at the bottom of the shaft in the pyramid the Emersons are excavating. So between the need to clear David's name and the need to explain the fate of the murder victim, there is a great deal of scope for Amelia's usual feisty investigations, backed up by Emerson's temperamental but kind-hearted assistance.
But sadly, Peters provides little of this. The bulk of the book is actually taken up with the romantic drama between Ramses, Amelia and Emerson's son, and Nefret, their ward.
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Format: Hardcover
This is actually an amazing book. It continues the adventures of the Peabody-Emerson clan, which has just become exponentially larger with the addition of David Todros' family after David's marriage to Lia Emerson. Ah, but things are never that simple in this world, and someone soon accuses the honeymooning David of forgeries. Needless to say, Amelia, Emerson, Ramses, and Nefret are hot on the case. However, things never go easily for this clan, with Nefret and Ramses' budding relationship and the evil Percy Peabody getting in the way of the investigation and the excavation (much to Emerson's dismay).
I know many people had problems with everyone's favorite girl from the oasis. However shocking this was, it was not all that surprising to me. Nefret is a girl bound to act on instinct and then regret later. So she doesn't make some of the best choices, but then we know everything she doesn't, eh?
Overall, this book was fantastic and just builds up the tensions that will all come to a head in the the emotionally charged "He Shall Thunder In the Sky," my favorite Peabody novel to date. Another great addition to a magnificent series of books...
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
While I didn't find that this story slipped down as easily as some of the lighter Amelia Peabody Mysteries I must point out that Nefret's horrified reaction to the "Ramses' Love Child" rumor Is easy to understand if you ask yourself two, count 'em 2, questions.
How far along was Nefret when She lost her baby? How long had she and young Geoffrey been married?
According to Dr. Willoughby Nefret went from wife to widow in the space of weeks. Nefret was, according to Amelia's reckoning, barely a month along, if that. Carefully reread the letters from collection B and you will see that an argument can certainly be made for the child's not being Geoffrey's.
If this was indeed the case and the father was Ramses it is hardly surprising that Nefret's reaction seemed so over the top. For a woman of Nefret's scruples the idea of carrying the child of the sort of male creature who creates and then leaves a baby to a life of misery and degradation might easily lead to a reckless, and mistaken course of action.
Aside from that plotline I am happy to see that with the advent of little Sennia all of the talk about equality is now being lived up to. It is all very well to have dark, handsome men as heroes of novels, but why do the women have to be so everlasting blonde and blue eyed to be considered beautiful? As a dark haired and dark eyed woman I feel that it is a legitimate question.
Now I hope that Sennia will be allowed to grow up to be as much of a beauty as Nefret is purported to be. It would be rather dampening to make her the gutsy, ugly duckling as it would only perpetuate the received prejudices about feminine grace and beauty being reserved for the whitest races. Equality is as equality does.
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Format: Hardcover
I adore the Amelia Peabody novels because they are so unlike any other mystery series. First, the bulk of the time is spent on archeological digs pursuing important scholarship in Egypt. Second, the characters are so outrageously original (Amelia is an early 20th century Wonder Woman who passionately craves her husband, Emerson is a steam boiler always about to go off on some emotional tangent or other, Ramses is a mixture of Oliver Twist and Super Boy, Nefret is Elizabeth Taylor in Dr. Florence Nightingale's role -- you get the idea). Third, the plots always involve lots of local history and interesting perspectives on manners of the period. Fourth, the whole crew is always off on some unexpected adventure or other. I often wonder how any of them ever sleep, between their day-time adventures and the clandestine night-time ones. It makes me tired just to think about them.
The characters have really grown on me. This is one of the few series I have read where the characters are probably the main attraction. The Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout have a similar attraction for me.
In this book (as in the recent ones), the action revolves around tensions among the family members. Clearly, everyone wants more psycholoical space, but the others good-heartedly want to look out for each other and impinge on that space. One would think these characters had read Freud.
Two characteristics of this book bothered me. It seems like the loose ends were greater in the family drama at the end of the book than they were at the beginning. I don't mind if Elizabeth Peters is going to do that, but she should bring out two books at the same time when she does so we are not left waiting so long for the resolution.
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