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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
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*        = Good, with reservations


***Lion in the Valley

by Elizabeth Peters

Reviewed October 2, 2003.
Avon Books, New York,1999.  Originally published in 1986.  370 pages.
Available for $7.50 in paperback on
A Sonderbooks’ Stand-out of 2003:  #6, Mystery and Adventure

The last fiction book I read, The Namesake was very serious and rather sad.  So I was perfectly in the mood for an Amelia Peabody mystery by Elizabeth Peters.  I picked up this one, the fourth in the series, and got exactly what I was looking for—A light-hearted, funny and clever mystery set in the fascinating background of an 1896 archeological expedition in Egypt.  Okay, the story was a bit melodramatic in spots, but it was a whole lot of fun.

The stories about Amelia Peabody Emerson are so wonderful because of her character and the characters of her husband Emerson and their precocious son Ramses.  Could such a strong-minded independent woman really have lived and worked in 1896 Egypt?  I don’t know, but it certainly is fun to watch Elizabeth Peters’ creations in action.  Amelia Peabody makes a wonderful narrator, with added humor in her absolute conviction that her view of events and people is the correct one.  Her husband Emerson is equally strong and their interaction is hilarious.  As for their amazing son Ramses, who always gets into trouble, he’s exactly the sort of child two such people deserve!

In Lion in the Valley, someone attempts to kidnap Ramses, and the next morning a dead body is found in the Emersons’ hotel.  Amelia is quick to see the hand of the Master Criminal, whom they met in the last book, in both of these events.  (Alas!  Since the first book I read was number thirteen in the series, I know the identity of the Master Criminal.  I still couldn’t penetrate all of his many disguises, though.)  Further events involve two young men both in love with a damsel in distress and further dead bodies and excavations.

This book was precisely what I was in the mood for.  I knew what to expect from having read the earlier three books, and that was exactly what I got.  The plot was more melodramatic than some of the others, but in all I enjoyed it thoroughly.

If you’re looking for a rollicking but cozy mystery, heavier on action than deduction, with a fascinating background and a touch of old-fashioned romance, the Amelia Peabody mysteries will fill the bill perfectly.

Other books by Elizabeth Peters:

Amelia Peabody Mystery #1:  Crocodile on the Sandbank
Amelia Peabody Mystery #2:  The Curse of the Pharaohs
Amelia Peabody Mystery #3:  The Mummy Case
Amelia Peabody Mystery #5:  The Deeds of the Disturber
Amelia Peabody Mystery #13:  Lord of the Silent

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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