A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

7 July, 2010

A River in the Sky is the 19th Amelia Peabody mystery by Elizabeth Peters. Being a ‘lost book’ from the papers of Amelia Peabody Emerson, chronologically it precedes The Falcon at the Portal and follows The Guardians of the Horizon.

For those of you who aren’t acquainted with Amelia Peabody and her clan of egyptologists and adventurers, be sure to check out the first book in the series, The Crocodile on the Sandbank. Elizabeth Peters is an acclaimed egyptologist and novelist and really knows her stuff. What keeps me coming back to her books is her love of her subject and her characters. Some may complain that her mysteries may be formulaic (but many have levelled that complaint against Agatha Christie) but I feel that a successful mystery novel is not only about the mystery itself, but also about the period, atmosphere and most importantly, character. And I love the characters Peters has created from Amelia Peabody, the original Victorican spinster with guts, to her irascible and fearless husband Radcliffe Emerson, their genius of a son Ramses and their ward, the beautiful, ethereal Nefret, brought up in Egypt and trained as a doctor. After reading every single one of the Amelia Peabody mysteries, you learn to spot the villains a mile off, but with each book, I learn more about Egypt and the study of its wonderful history and culture.

It’s 1910 and in A River in the Sky, the Emerson clan aren’t spending their annual winter season in Egypt but in Palestine. As Emerson is reluctantly roped in by the British Government to keep an eye out for a suspected German spy, Ramses, his son, is busy staying out of trouble on his dig near Jerusalem. But an encounter with an enigmatic and beautiful German archeologist and her sinister companion leads to trouble as he becomes a hostage for stumbling upon a plot that will have severe political and human repercussions. As the Emerson clan approach Jerusalem, can they find Ramses, and will Amelia be able to keep her family in one piece in such a politically charged climate?

Once again, I really enjoyed Peter’s creation, this time learning a bit more about Palestine and the various groups and troubles of the period that echoes the problems faced in the Middle East today. My one quibble would be that I wanted the book to be longer and the story to be a little more complete as I wanted to spend a little longer with my favourite characters. And did I mention how hot Ramses is? I know he’s only words and ink, but seriously! I have such a crush.

Thank you to the lovely people at Constable and Robinson who sent me a copy to review.

I read this for the Thriller and Suspense Challenge 2010.

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15 Responses to “A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters”

  1. Nymeth Says:

    Having just read and loved the first two books in the series, I’m excited to find out there are nineteen of them – more than I’d realised! I have some excellent reading ahead of me, it seems 🙂


  2. I meant to read the first in the series after you mentioned it last time but haven’t got round to it yet but I really must as I love the sound of this one. Having lived in Israel I am fascinated by books set there and being a huge victorian fan too – what’s not to love?

    If I read the first one to get to know the characters would I then be able to read this one or should I read them in order?

    • chasing bawa Says:

      I would read them in order because then you’ll get to know the characters as they grow and their relationships evolve. They are in chronological order which span over 20 years except for a few books. You’ll get so much more out of it.

  3. novelinsights Says:

    This series sounds great. I developed a serious crush on character in Peyton Place so I know just what you mean!

  4. winstonsdad Says:

    sounds like a interesting series and also like stuff set in 20’s the glamour of that age is wonderful ,all the best stu

  5. Kristen M. Says:

    I love these and am thinking about starting again at the beginning soon! This is the only one I haven’t read as I’m waiting for the paperback to add to my collection.

  6. Novroz Says:

    Read your review and it sounds like a good book. But 19th Series? wow, it reminds me of Three Detective, something I read when I was still a teen.

    The eqypt thing is the one that really intrigued me.

    • chasing bawa Says:

      The Three Detective? Who by? I’m intrigued (can you tell I’m obessesed with mysteries?).

      • Novroz Says:

        It’s a teen mystery…I don’t know if you’ll like it or not. The books was written in 60s.

        The introduction was by Alfred Hitchock, but he is not the one who wrote all the series, Robert Arthur is the one who created the characters.

        • chasing bawa Says:

          Is it the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew series? Anyway, I’ll check it out, thank!

          • Novroz Says:

            Nope…not Hardy Boys, I knew that book…I love three detectives better.

            It’s about 2 highschool students who owned a secret detective agency. Jupiter is the brain, the others are Pete and Bob. I love Jupiter’s character the most.

          • chasing bawa Says:

            OMG, I’ve never heard of this. I’m definitely going to get at least one to read. Thank you for letting me know!

          • Novroz Says:

            Ups…I just realized I typed 2 highschool students…I mean 3.

            Have fun 🙂 I hope you’ll find it…It was my favorite series and my 1st novel.


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