August 12th, 2014

rotting doll.

Review: Seeing a Large Cat (Amelia Peabody #9) by Elizabeth Peters

Seeing a Large Cat
by Elizabeth Peters

Book Nine in the Amelia Peabody series. Click here to read reviews of earlier books in the series. This review may contain spoilers for previous books in the series.

It is 1903, and the Emerson family is once again back in Egypt, preparing for a season of excavation. Amelia, her husband, and their ward Nefret are excited to be reunited with her son Ramses, who has spent the previous six months living in Egypt with his best friend David under the supervision of Sheikh Mohammed. The reunion is a happy one, but tranquility doesn’t last long. As the team begins their work, they uncover a female mummy dressed in modern clothing. As Amelia works to solve the mystery of the murdered woman, her children start their own secret investigation, and it’s a race to see if the Emersons can find the killer before he strikes again.

One of the nice things about long book series is the author can bring back characters from previous novels, and a perk of Seeing a Large Cat is the return of Donald and Enid Fraser, the two lovebirds Amelia encouraged in The Lion in the Valley. Their romance has faded with the years, and their marriage is now strained near to the point of breaking. Donald, never an intellectual man, has become obsessed with a long-dead Egyptian princess whom he communicates with through the charlatan medium Katherine Jones. Amelia becomes determined to fix the broken relationship, but the breakdown of their marriage is a solemn reminder that happily ever after doesn’t last for all that long.

Another welcome change to the story is the introduction of a “Manuscript H” to supplement Amelia’s narrative. These anonymous documents focus on the adventures of Ramses, David and Nefret, and they provide the reader with an account that contrasts sharply with Amelia’s. It’s written in the style of a Haggard adventure novel, and the editor suggests that the author may have been Ramses himself, fictionalizing events in emulation of his mother. Certainly, the text reveals a quirkier side of Ramses’ personality. I found it hilarious to read that the sixteen-year-old is still quite terrified of his mother, and believes her to be practically all-knowing, because in Amelia’s version of events he comes across as cool, stoic and fiercely independent. Throw in some drama from an infatuated Southern belle who chases Ramses all over Egypt, and Manuscript H is a funny balance to Amelia’s story.

The mystery itself is of middling interest. The discovery of a modern mummy is certainly intriguing, but having become quite familiar with Peters’ manner of plotting her mysteries it’s obvious early on who the guilty party is, and the reader is simply waiting for the Emersons to catch up. Still, I enjoyed the story immensely, and I’m glad that Ramses (or whoever the author of Manuscript H may be) has stepped up to join in the storytelling, for as Amelia and Emerson grow older (they must be in at least their mid- to late forties by now) it will be up to the next generation to continue their criminal investigations.

4 out of 5 stars

To read more about Seeing a Large Cat, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the in:
2013: Rest in Peace Barbara Mertz/Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels
2012: Fashionista Piranha is on a break until August 14th...
2011: Mangaman by Barry Lyga & Colleen Doran
2010: News: Press “Pause” on Fashionista Piranha
2009: News: Oregon Shakespeare Festival
2008: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson