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.

I thought I was pretty good with not buying books this month, but hey, who am I trying to kid?

I was lucky enough to get sent the following:

Stone in a Landslide by Maria Barbal – the lovely Meike from Peirene Press sent this for me to try. I’ve never read any Catalan fiction and Stone in Landslide has been in print for 50 years, but this is the first time it’s been translated into English.

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters – the newest addition to Peters’ Amelia Peabody series. I fell in love with the series set in the early 20th century that combine mystery, history and Egyptology with some incredibly wonderful and funny characters when I picked up the first volume Crocodile on the Sandbank at Chicago’s famous Seminary Co-op Bookstore (astrophysicist and my hero Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar’s favourite bookshop) years ago. She’s one of my favourite writers and I always return to her when I’m in need of some bookish comfort. And Amelia’s son Ramses is to die for.

And I picked these up at my local charity shop for a pound each:

Modern Tongue: The English Language by Bill Bryson – I really enjoyed Notes from a Small Island which was hilarious but have never read anything else by Bryson (except for snippets of A Short History of Nearly Everything which I dip into occasionally.)

Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading by Maureen Corrigan – How could I not pick this up? The title alone hooked me.

Solo by Rana Dasgupta – Dasgupta was present at the GLF 2010 earlier this year, but I hadn’t read any of his books although Tokyo Cancelled has been on my radar. Solo won the Commonwealth Writers Prize this year.

The Gunslinger by Stephen King – I’ve heard so many good things about King’s The Dark Tower sequence of which this is the first book. I found this book just after reading a great review about the series. It’s funny how these things happen.