“Crocodile on the Sandbank” by Elizabeth Peters – Plucky English gentlewoman meets homicidal mummy in Victorian Egypt – Splendid fun.

crocThis is an excellent light read, guaranteed to bring a smile to the reader’s lips and perhaps even provoke the urge to shout “Hurrah” from time to time.

This was my first encounter with the redoubtable Amelia Peabody, an unmarried English gentlewoman who, having decided to use her recently inherited wealth to pursue her passion for Egyptology, finds herself adopting a young woman of damaged reputation , working alongside a fierce and focused archaeologist who has a will and a temper as strong as her own, and confronted with what appears to be a homicidal mummy.

The book is written in the form of a journal in which Amelia Peabody addresses the reader directly, showing us the world through her eyes. Amelia has a sharp wit, a strong will and absolutely no tolerance for people who flap about rather than getting on with what needs to be done.

Set in the 1880s, when Egypt was jointly ruled by the British and the French, Gordon was besieged at Khartoum and the British Empire was at its zenith, Elizabeth Peters brings to life the brio, pride and pragmatism that powered the empire. The language is authentic without being impenetrable and the plot has just enough twists to be interesting without having to venture into the implausibly Byzantine.

The book is carried by Amelia Peabody, you either like and admire her or you should be reading something else. I’m sure this is an opinion she would share.

Barbara Rosenblat gives Amelia the perfect accent for her class and period and does a creditable job of producing distinctive voices for the wide range of characters, male, female, English and Foreign that populate this tale.

I recommend this audio book to anyone who needs cheering up but cannot tolerate saccharine feel-good slush. This is more like a brisk walk and a pleasurable cup of tea with a stimulating , if slightly overwhelming, companion.


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