“…Emerson would have been the first to proclaim that we were a partnership, in archaeology as in marriage.”
The last camel is dead, and Egyptologist Amelia Peabody, her dashing husband, Emerson, and precocious son, Ramses, are in dire straits on the sun-scorched desert sands. Months before, back in cool, green England, Viscount Blacktower had approached them to find his son and his son’s new bride, who have been missing in war-torn Sudan for over a decade. An enigmatic message scrawled on papyrus and a cryptic map had been delivered to Blacktower, awakening his hope that the couple was still alive.
Neither Amelia nor Emerson believes the message is authentic, but the treasure map proves an irresistible temptation. Now, deep in Nubia’s vast wasteland, they discover too late how much treachery is afoot (and on camelback)…and survival depends on Amelia’s solving a mystery as old as ancient Egypt and as timeless as greed and revenge.
Well, mercy! Wasn’t this an exercise in going back—way back?! We’re talking the 19th Century with brilliantly minded Amelia Peabody who possesses a superior knowledge of Egyptology and archeology. As if that weren’t enough, she managed to discover Professor Radcliffe Emerson, a prominent Egyptologist in his own right and they married. Together, they managed to produce a son, Ramses, also another Mensa candidate, too smart for school and sometimes his own parents.
Apparently, twenty episodes in this series, I managed to come in on Book 6, main characters well established (although this could be read as a standalone), and superior child about ten(?). Written in very stilted English, appropriate for the period in style and moral practices (clean read), these two are a hoot.
Well, most of the time.
I must say I did tire of the disdain often laid on those whose IQ didn’t conform, but I did enjoy the intelligent and often educational descriptions of Egypt’s history. Such a vast knowledge deserved to be shared and was usually in an engaging and entertaining fashion—not as dry textbook info dump.
It’s written in a journalist style as if she were speaking to her readers. Indeed, she often stops to speak directly to her readers.
In this entry to the series, they cruise the Nile to Nubia to find an old acquaintance long since lost at the behest of the father. They’ll combine the expedition with the opportunity to explore or excavate new sites.
Along the way, however, they are tricked and abandoned after discovering the last camel was poisoned. They are quietly rescued to a lost city. Oh, the deliciousness! The atmospherics, discovering an ancient people, their way of life, and of course that two half-brothers are vying for the exulted high position. (Oops!) Obviously, there is a keen wit involved in the prose—just reread the name of the title—and the banter between husband and wife is priceless. Otherwise, it’s a long one and there are a few slow passages pocked here and there in an otherwise well-plotted and paced narrative.
I must mention a shout-out, however, for the narrator, Susan O’Malley, who neither stumbled nor slowed over 22 syllable words and pronunciations. Excellent job, and saddened to see both narrator and author now deceased.
I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my local well-stocked library. These are my honest thoughts.
Genre: Historical Mysteries, Historical Mystery
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Narrator: Susan O’Malley
Publication Date: February 26, 2004
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Last Camel Died at Noon [Amazon]
Rosepoint Publishing: Four stars
The Author: ELIZABETH PETERS, whose New York Times best-selling novels are often set against historical backdrops, earned a Ph.D. in Egyptology at the University of Chicago. She also writes best-selling books under the pseudonym Barbara Michaels. She lives in Frederick, Maryland.
[Goodreads]Elizabeth Peters is a pen name of Barbara Mertz. She also wrote as Barbara Michaels as well as her own name. Born and brought up in Illinois, she earned her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago. Mertz was named Grand Master at the inaugural Anthony Awards in 1986 and Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America at the Edgar Awards in 1998. She lived in a historic farmhouse in Frederick, western Maryland until her death (August 2013).
The Narrator: [Goodreads] Susan O’Malley (1976–2015) was an internationally exhibited artist and curator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. As curator and print center director at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, she worked with hundreds of artists and organized more than fifty exhibitions and public programs. As an artist, she made work that brings a sense of interconnectedness into our lives, from conversations with strangers to installations in public places. The impact of her work has traveled far and wide. O’Malley’s artwork has been exhibited in public projects across the United States—San Francisco, New York, Nashville—and around the globe in the United Kingdom, Poland, and Denmark. She exhibited at alternative spaces and cultural institutions including, in California, the Montalvo Art Center, Kala Art Institute, and Palo Alto Art Center, as well as the Contemporary Art Museum (Houston, TX), and the Parthenon Museum (Nashville, TN). Her participatory installation Finding Your Center, a collaboration with Leah Rosenberg, was recently featured in Bay Area Now 7 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and her project A Healing Walk is permanently installed at Villa Montalvo. The powerful optimism of her work lives on.
©2023 V Williams