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Old 05-18-2011, 04:43 PM   #9435
ATDrake
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Finished another batch of Amelia Peabody, Plucky Victorian Egyptologist mysteries by Elizabeth Peters in publication order from The Ape Who Guard the Balance through to The Golden One. Or perhaps I should say, another batch of Walter "Ramses" Peabody Emerson, Improbably Talented Undercover Edwardian/Georgian Master of Disguise thrillers, which they seem to have become as the books ramped up to and through WWI.

The new formula (and these are very formulaic) seems to intersperse 1st person narrative by Amelia with 3rd person recounting of Ramses's thrilling escapades (and lovesick will-they-won't-they maunderings, which I could have lived without), plus the occasional family letters. I actually mildly like this change, since you now get multiple viewpoints of the action.

The rest of it seems to be much the same. In any given book, expect the following to occur at least once:
  • The sudden re/appearance of a surprise relative, who may or may not have been previously known to be a relative. Bonus points if there's more than one per book.
  • The obligatory kidnapping and imprisonment attempt. Bonus points for more than two per book, and if the captive is aided from imprisonment by a sympathetic but scared person who ends up very dead later.
  • The knife-slash in the dark by an unseen assailant, which inevitably ruins another shirt. Bonus points if it happens during the daytime, in crowded conditions. Minus points for use of gun, since that kind of lacks style. No extra points if the slasher/shooter turns up dead under mysterious circumstances, because that's practically par for the course.
  • Mysterious accidents which lead to narrowly-avoided could-have-been-fatal injury turn out to be deliberate sabotage upon further investigation. Bonus points if they happen away from those risky excavation sites, and if they take out some unfortunate peripheral person who just happens to be standing too close to/mistaken for a Peabody-Emerson.
  • People are suspected to be other people in disguise, but it turns out that they can't be, as those other people were already in disguise as entirely different people. Subtract points if those people turned out to be Ramses, Master of Disguise, or Sethos, Master Criminal (and also Master of Disguise).
  • People turn out to have actually impersonating other known actual people who were not previously suspected of being impersonators, and everyone was totally taken in by said impersonation thinking they were actually that person until the truth comes out.
  • Old friends and former acquaintances who went offstage more than 3 books ago pop back up hoping to renew that friendship/acquaintance with possibly ulterior motives.
  • Old enemies who went offstage more than 3 books ago pop back up to take revenge.
  • Old friends and former acquaintances who went offstage more than 3 books ago pop back up and are suspected to be new enemies hoping to take revenge, having renewed that friendship/acquaintance with possibly ulterior motives. Bonus points if they actually are.
  • Confounded young lovers bickering and angsting over each other yet not daring to show each other any feelings more tender and loving than angry squabbling, for fear of non-reciprocation. Actually, this is mostly just the one couple, but it happens an annoying amount. So bonus points when they mercifully shut up about it, even if the drawn-out angst doesn't go away until many books later and gets replaced by equally sickening lovey-dovey squabbling.
I don't advocate using the above as a drinking game if reading more than two books per week. You'd die of alcohol poisoning.

Aside from that, they were decent reads if you know what you're getting into, and interesting enough if you like undercover investigative thrillers with increasingly vague archaeological links.

Though I hope the library didn't pay too much for their PDF e-book copy of The Falcon at the Portal, as that was riddled quite a few errors, from missing punctuation to extraneous tildes to the usual scannos which prove that no one bothered to proofread, including characters being described as "inteffigent" and one unfortunate cast member being repeatedly renamed "Scum".

Now onto the post-WWI Children of the Storm, which finally seems to be getting back to the series' archaeological murder-related roots, but with the new mostly improved narrative formula.
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