I was putting together a blog post for Crocodile on the Sandbank for work and I developed a need to read an Amelia Peabody mystery. Luckily, I managed to get my hands on the only copy of the first book we have in our library system.
I suppose it is well enough for some women; what else can the poor things do? But why should any independent, intelligent female choose to subject herself to the whims and tyrannies of a husband? – Amelia Peabody
In Crocodile on the Sandbank, Amelia is a wealthy, sassy, thirty-something, somewhat eccentric “spinster”. She makes the decision to spend her money by traveling to the parts of the world that her father always studied. While in Italy, she meets Evelyn, a down-on-her-luck young lady of possible fortune. Evelyn becomes Amelia’s traveling companion and they set out for Egypt.
I could not endure a man who let himself be ruled by me, and I would not endure a man who tried to rule me. — Amelia Peabody
Since this is the first in the series, many things change over the years in Amelia’s world. It’s difficult to avoid seeing what happens in later books. There are 20 books in the series, the first published in 1975 and the most recent in April 2010. In Amelia’s world, the books cover 1884 up to 1923. It’s a pretty impressive span of time – there are marriages and children and travels galore!
Amelia’s Egypt is very different from the one today and since I’ve never been to Egypt at any period in time, I was in need of visual assistance (I’m so thankful for Wikipedia at times like this…).
Who, What, Where, Huh…?
Dahabeeyah – This is Amelia’s chosen form of transportation for traveling up and down the Nile. It’s like a fancy houseboat.
Pyramids of Gizeh (Giza) – I know what the Pyramids are, I was an Art History major! But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to visualize those giant pyramids. Not to mention, when you see the photos of all three together, perspective really plays tricks with how those babies are laid out.
Shepheard’s Hotel – Amelia and Evelyn stayed here.
Sakkara – This is one I wasn’t familiar with.
Khuenaten (Akhenaten) - While I was familiar with what he looked like thanks to all those Art History classes, I didn’t remember his backstory – you know, that he was a heretic king or that his wife was Nefertiti.
Rome to Brindisi to Alexandria to Cairo to Amarna – Amelia’s travels included a trip across the Meditarrean and then a quick jaunt to Cairo. From there she traveled down the Nile to Amarna (with a few stops along the way).
Similar Reads: Peas in a Pod – Alexia and Amelia
If you like gentle reads and mysteries, definitely give this series a go. If you prefer your mysteries with a more obvious dose of fantasy, then I recommend Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series (Victorian mysteries with a Steampunk twist). Alexia Tarabotti and Amelia Peabody would have loved each other or absolutely loathed each other – they’re a lot a like. Like Amelia, Alexia is spirited, opinionated, and independent. However, Amelia doesn’t have to deal with werewolves and vampires…and at least Amelia has a soul (one thing Alexia is missing).
(I know that as a librarian, I’m supposed to dislike Wikipedia. I think that’s silly. Do I depend on it as the end-all-be-all, always the right answer, one-stop research spot? No, but it’s a great place start to find quick answers and better quality resources. Remember the good Wikipedia articles link to other websites and have citations — and hopefully good ones.)