The Bibliophile's Adventurers Club

Exemplars of bookish delight

In retrospect: Amelia Peabody Mysteries


After reading about a ditsy blonde, I needed something with a bit more substance. Something to cleanse the mental palet, if you will. On the flip side, it couldn’t be too terribly deep, because let’s be serious: it’s summer, and the sun has bleached the mind of all sensibilities.

So I opted to solve a few mysteries with Amelia Peabody; specifically, Elizabeth Peters: Three Complete Mysteries.

The novels contained in this compilation are the first of nineteen. Since the series spans thirty-eight years, let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?

In Crocodile on the Sandbank, we meet Amelia Peabody, in Rome.  The year is 1884, and she lives a rather unwonted life for the day; a suffragette, a scholar, a self proclaimed life-long spinster, she hatches a plan to flee unwanted suitors by taking her inheritance and exploring the world (first stop, Egypt). Along the way she rescues a young lady from certain death, bumps into esteemed archaeologists, unearths priceless Egyptian artifacts, and stands up to a mummy. Oh, you read me–a mummy. Seeing how a mummy is hardly logical, Amelia sets out to discover the truth. And so the mystery begins . . .

I thought these books great fun (though, admittedly, I enjoyed the first two most of all). First, there is the history. Egyptology would not be my first choice, I’ll grant you. But the author knows her stuff; Elizabeth Peters (the nom de plume of Barbara Mertz) holds a PhD in Egyptology.

Then, there are her characters. As you might imagine of those intrigued with dead kings and buried artifacts, they are a bit quirky–with intelligence that often outweighs social graces. Of course, it may be their eccentricity that draws them to my heart. After all, I have amassed my share of scholarly friends; I couldn’t help but smile each time I recognized them in Amelia or Emerson.

All in all, it’s a comedic  blend  of (lighthearted) mystery, (erudite) romance, and (satirical) adventure. It’s a perfect little read for long summer days.

I hope I number patience among my virtues. But shilly-shallying when nothing is to be gained by delay, is no virtue! -Amelia Peabody, Crocodile on the Sandbank


  1. Oh 19 in the series! Sounds wonderful – quite like the Mrs. Pollifax series, which my sister and I thoroughly enjoyed

    • amelia

      19 June 2013 at 9:47 am

      Yes, and as you might expect with such a large series, I’ve heard some are better than others–but there are good ones throughout.

      And Mrs. Pollifax–she cracks me up! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.