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Old 07-19-2012, 09:22 AM   #1
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July Discussion: Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (spoilers)

Let's discuss the May MobileRead Book Club selection, Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters. What did you think?
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Old 07-19-2012, 05:47 PM   #2
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I can hear the criticisms now: predictable and hopelessly clichéd. And I agree. As a whodunit, it failed miserably; I figured out early on who the culprit was, and while I didn't realize Alberto was the mummy, I certainly knew it was a confederate of Evelyn's cousin Lucus. The clichés were out in full force: who among us didn't realize from the moment they met that Amelia and Radcliff were perfect for each other? After all their bickering and criticism of one another, who didn't expect them to end up in each other's arms?

That being said, I loved the book. Elizabeth Peters played on my emotions shamelessly, and it worked. Even though I could see it all coming, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride—so much so that I just bought the sequel, The Curse of the Pharaohs.

This book satisfied. It made me feel good, and there's nothing wrong with that.
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Old 07-20-2012, 05:15 AM   #3
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I can hear the criticisms now: predictable and hopelessly clichéd. And I agree. As a whodunit, it failed miserably; I figured out early on who the culprit was, and while I didn't realize Alberto was the mummy, I certainly knew it was a confederate of Evelyn's cousin Lucus. The clichés were out in full force: who among us didn't realize from the moment they met that Amelia and Radcliff were perfect for each other? After all their bickering and criticism of one another, who didn't expect them to end up in each other's arms?

That being said, I loved the book. Elizabeth Peters played on my emotions shamelessly, and it worked. Even though I could see it all coming, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride—so much so that I just bought the sequel, The Curse of the Pharaohs.

This book satisfied. It made me feel good, and there's nothing wrong with that.
I loved this book--mainly because I fell in love with Amelia Peabody! She's one of those characters that make a book enjoyable. I think a really good mystery depends as much on having that kind of a character as in having an interesting plot. For instance, who is the most iconic detective in literature?--Obviously Sherlock Holmes. Yet Doyle's actual writing ability is mediocre and his mystery plots vary considerably in quality. But in the heel of the hunt he somehow got a magical mix with Holmes {and Watson}--so much so that his character has become the touchstone for every detective since then.

I think Peters has also created a remarkable detective with a very intense personality that I found irresistible. The other characters more or less circle in orbits around her.

Now this is the first time I have read a book by Elizabeth Peters. So can the rest of you who obviously have far more familiarity with her work tell me if Amelia continues to live up to her portrayal in this book? If so,I would be interested in reading more.
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Old 07-20-2012, 07:15 AM   #4
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I can hear the criticisms now: predictable and hopelessly clichéd. And I agree. As a whodunit, it failed miserably;
Yep, I was going to say something along those lines. In many ways it was a bit like reading Nancy Drew (I read pretty much all of them once upon a time many many moons ago...).
It felt more like a romance book spiced up with crime/mystery (as so many Harlequin paperbacks) than a crime/mystery book.
Does this mean I didn't like it? Nope!
It was way more well written than most of those "romance books spiced up with a crime" and I really enjoyed the way it was written. It kept me smiling quite a lot. An easy, enjoyable summer read.
I can't say I felt any desire to read any more books in the series. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. As I said it kept me smiling, and sometimes that is all I need from a book!
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Old 07-20-2012, 07:37 AM   #5
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I read it and enjoyed it. I'll add the next in the series to my TBR list, but the priority is pretty low.

I was a little disappointed though, once they were in Egypt, I expected Scooby and the gang to show up and help with the mystery.
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Old 07-20-2012, 07:57 AM   #6
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I didn't vote as I don't normally get involved in the Book Clubs because I have so many books waiting to be read already. But I thought this sounded like fun and it didn't cost much. So I hope it's okay to sneak into the Club room without a membership card.

I too really enjoyed it as a light and entertaining read. I love Amelia's no nonsense approach, and her preparedness to make use of her trusty umbrella as a weapon. I thought that Elizabeth Peters did really well with the whole feel of the book and it sounded very English right through, except for one use of the word "fall" where an English writer would have used "autumn", right near the end of the book.

I agree with all the comments above - and had lots of fun reading it.
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Old 07-20-2012, 08:29 AM   #7
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I loved this book--mainly because I fell in love with Amelia Peabody! She's one of those characters that make a book enjoyable. I think a really good mystery depends as much on having that kind of a character as in having an interesting plot.
You know, of course, that Amelia Peabody is based on a real person? She's very much inspired by the Victorian novelist and Egyptologist Amelia B. Edwards (1831-1892), who wrote a book of her travels in Egypt called "A Thousand Miles Up to Nile" which became a massive bestseller. (You can find it in the MR Library here - I thoroughly recommend reading it). Many details of the story are taken directly from "A Thousand Miles Up the Nile" - eg both the real and fictional Amelias (Ameliae?) travel in a Dahabeeya called the "Philae"; both are given the nickname "the lady doctor" by the locals (to be strictly accurate, in the real Amelia's case it was her companion who was given the nickname), and much more.

Similarly, Emerson is very much inspired by the British archeologist Sir Flinders Petrie, some of whose methods are directly described in passages in "Crocodile on the Sandbank" (such as preserving a delicate painting by using his finger to cover it with a preservative.) Like Emerson, Petrie had a reputation for being grumpy, shouting at people, and having no patience with people he considered to be fools.

I should add that it was reading this series that inspired me first to visit Egypt (which is probably my favourite place on Earth) and secondly to learn more, read about, and create a nice eBook edition of the book of, the real Amelia Edwards - a very formidable lady, by all accounts.

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Old 07-20-2012, 09:22 AM   #8
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I expected Scooby and the gang to show up and help with the mystery.
Zoinks! It's the mummy!


As a mystery, it did take a long time to get to the mystery. I did find the story predictable and an easy read. I enjoyed the characters. I might have a go with the second book since we no longer need to be introduced to the main characters.
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Old 07-20-2012, 09:35 AM   #9
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Now this is the first time I have read a book by Elizabeth Peters. So can the rest of you who obviously have far more familiarity with her work tell me if Amelia continues to live up to her portrayal in this book? If so,I would be interested in reading more.
The books hold up well into the series and I don't mean to damn it with faint praise. I can't point to a particular book where I lost interest, but it was more than midway into the canon (now at 19 books). Generally speaking, the next generation (because Peters has Amelia and co. age and moves the timeline forward) isn't as interesting as Amelia and Emerson. There's much to entertain and to charm before the schtick gets tired, the fate of any series.
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Old 07-20-2012, 12:08 PM   #10
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You know, of course, that Amelia Peabody is based on a real person? She's very much inspired by the Victorian novelist and Egyptologist Amelia B. Edwards (1831-1892), who wrote a book of her travels in Egypt called "A Thousand Miles Up to Nile" which became a massive bestseller. (You can find it in the MR Library here - I thoroughly recommend reading it). Many details of the story are taken directly from "A Thousand Miles Up the Nile" - eg both the real and fictional Amelias (Ameliae?) travel in a Dahabeeya called the "Philae"; both are given the nickname "the lady doctor" by the locals (to be strictly accurate, in the real Amelia's case it was her companion who was given the nickname), and much more.

Similarly, Emerson is very much inspired by the British archeologist Sir Flinders Petrie, some of whose methods are directly described in passages in "Crocodile on the Sandbank" (such as preserving a delicate painting by using his finger to cover it with a preservative.) Like Emerson, Petrie had a reputation for being grumpy, shouting at people, and having no patience with people he considered to be fools.

I should add that it was reading this series that inspired me first to visit Egypt (which is probably my favourite place on Earth) and secondly to learn more, read about, and create a nice eBook edition of the book of, the real Amelia Edwards - a very formidable lady, by all accounts.

I wasn't aware of any of that very interesting background. No wonder she is such a believable character. Thanks!
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Old 07-20-2012, 12:16 PM   #11
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The books hold up well into the series and I don't mean to damn it with faint praise. I can't point to a particular book where I lost interest, but it was more than midway into the canon (now at 19 books). Generally speaking, the next generation (because Peters has Amelia and co. age and moves the timeline forward) isn't as interesting as Amelia and Emerson. There's much to entertain and to charm before the schtick gets tired, the fate of any series.
Hmmm . . . I don't see myself going through 19 books! I'll probably stick with Amelia and Emerson for a time and see how it goes.
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Old 07-20-2012, 01:39 PM   #12
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Hmmm . . . I don't see myself going through 19 books! I'll probably stick with Amelia and Emerson for a time and see how it goes.
It goes down more easily at the rate of one a year!
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Old 07-20-2012, 02:32 PM   #13
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I've enjoyed the entire series; it's one of my favourites.
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Old 07-20-2012, 05:17 PM   #14
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I loved this book--mainly because I fell in love with Amelia Peabody!...
I'm with you there, but I also loved her Radcliffe Emerson character. The play between those two is what made the book for me.
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Old 07-20-2012, 05:19 PM   #15
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I read it and enjoyed it. I'll add the next in the series to my TBR list, but the priority is pretty low.

I was a little disappointed though, once they were in Egypt, I expected Scooby and the gang to show up and help with the mystery.
Yesterday, when my grandson asked me to describe the book, and I told him about the mummy terrorizing the camp, he said, "Oh, so this is like an episode of Scooby Doo!"

Yeah, it kinda' was, but a lot more fun.
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