The Crocodile on the Sandbank

Rating: 5 out of 5.
crocodile on the sandbank book cover

Elizabeth Peters, 1988 – Amelia Peabody #1

This is the first book in a top-rate mystery series, set in Egypt at the end of the 19th/beginning of the 20th century. It behooves the reader to read The Crocodile on the Sandbank, which starts – well – at the very beginning, and is the foundation of the series. We watch (and laugh) as the intrepid Amelia Peabody first meets larger-than-life Radcliffe Emerson; lines are drawn in the Egyptian sand and the tone of their relationship is set.

About the series: Amelia Peabody solves murders in Egypt with (or in spite of) the help of her very competitive archaeologist husband Radcliffe Emerson and, eventually, their precocious son Walter (“Ramses”).  As murders take place in pyramids and at archaeological digs, the family, ostensibly working together to solve each murder, hilariously sabotage each others’ efforts.  The brilliant and eccentric trio love each other fiercely in spite of the shenanigans, and this series is not to be missed.  It’s smart, funny, and very satisfying.

Author Elizabeth Peters is one of several pen names for Barbara Mertz, who earned a PhD in Egyptology.  Actual historical characters populate this series, and you will find yourself wanting to do some research on your own.

As Miss Peters / Dr. Mertz died in 2013, this series is complete at twenty books. I have not read the last one, which was finished posthumously by friend and fellow mystery author Joan Hess.