Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Ape Who Guards the Balance (1998)

This is the tenth book in the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters about a family of archaeologists at the turn of the 20th century. Amelia is the matriarch, Professor Emerson is her husband, Ramses is her son, Nefret her niece, and David, an Egyptian who is as close to Ramses as any brother could be. As I read this book I thought that all of them were always aware of each others' location and occupation like our body is aware of the location and occupation of each of its parts. The point of view alternates between Amelia's and "Manuscript H" which lets us see what is going on with the family members when she is not there to observe.

There was no warning, not even a knock. The door flew open, and he forgot his present aches and pains in anticipation of what lay in store. The figure that stood in the door was not that of an enemy. It was worse. It was his mother.

They are all very proper and very British in their actions and interactions with others. The Professor is given permission to dig in a location that does not hold any promise and he must use all of his best control to not interfere with another archeologist's more exciting dig especially since he knows that the other dig will not be correctly recorded in the rush to unearth new riches. They are all on guard for a master criminal known as Sethos who, despite his six foot height, is also a master of disguise. There is another villain, Bertha, who takes advantage of Amelia's crusade to educate Egyptian girls to better their circumstances.

I really wanted to like this book. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I started with the beginning of this series. After all, it has an undeniably intriguing mix of mystery and Egyptology. I think I will try to find the earlier adventures to see if I like the series better.

My rating for this book: +++

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