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Old 05-15-2011, 12:49 PM   #9401
ATDrake
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Finished The Last Camel Died at Noon, which has the best title of all of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody mysteries.

Usual tropes apply: redheads suspected of being villainous, aristocrats known to be useless, another set of confounded young lovers, the inordinately precocious child wanders off on his own adventures only to reappear just in time to conveniently save the day, must uphold British standards of decency and excellence wherever we go pour encourager les autres, etc. etc.

This is set apart from other Peabody tales by being intended as an homage to H. Rider Haggard's novels. So we get the Peabody-Emersons on the trail of a long ago disappearance of an explorer who may or may not have discovered a mysterious hidden civilization (or just died in the desert alongside the camels).

It's openly an action adventure tale with only mild mystery elements and a somewhat different narrative structure, as part of the tale is told in foreshadowing flashback-to-how-we-got-to-the-dead-camels.

It was the extras that made this book, actually. The hardcover edition I have from the library comes with maps, sketches of the "discoveries", and some loving book designer took the time to add these little scarab-shaped scene spacers and chapter header/footer silhouettes featuring a) Amelia in her bloomers wielding a parasol in a manner that resembles a demented Mary Poppins and b) the soon to be doomed camel train. Awesome.

Moderate recommend. Still not free of the annoying series clichÚs that had begun to afflict the Peabody books, but definitely stands above the immediately previous ones by virtue of a more imaginative (if mildly improbable) plot and execution, and the bonuses included in the 1991 Warner Books North American hardcover edition which may or may not still exist in the more recent reprints.
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