The Ape Who Guards the Balance (Amelia Peabody Series #10)

The Ape Who Guards the Balance (Amelia Peabody Series #10)

4.6 26
by Elizabeth Peters

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The prospects for the 1907 archaeological season in Egypt seem fairly dull to Amelia Peabody. Despite her adored husband's brilliant reputation in his field, his dashing-yet-less-than-diplomatic behavior has Professor Radcliffe Emerson ignominiously demoted to examining only the most boring tombs in the Valley of the Kings -- mere leftovers, really. All the

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The prospects for the 1907 archaeological season in Egypt seem fairly dull to Amelia Peabody. Despite her adored husband's brilliant reputation in his field, his dashing-yet-less-than-diplomatic behavior has Professor Radcliffe Emerson ignominiously demoted to examining only the most boring tombs in the Valley of the Kings -- mere leftovers, really. All the Peabody Emersons profess stiff upper lips and intend to make the best of a bad situation, but this year the legendary land of the pharoahs will yield more than priceless artifacts for the Emerson expedition. For the desert guards even deeper mysteries that are wrapped in greed -- and sealed by murder.

In a seedy section of Cairo, the youngest members of the expedition purchase a mint-condition papyrus of the famed Book of the Dead, the collection of magical spells and prayers designed to ward off the perils of the underworld and lead the deceased into everlasting life. But for as long as there have been graves, there have also been grave robbers -- as well as those who believe tomb violators risk the wrath of gods like Thoth, the little baboon who protects the scales used to weigh such precious commodities as hearts and souls.

Besides facing the ire of ancient deities, their adventure into antiquity also puts Amelia and company in the sights of Sethos, the charismatically compelling but elusive Master Criminal whose bold villainies have defied the authorities in sever countries. In truth, Amelia needn't have worried: this season is about to turn from dull to deadly. Soon, she will need all her remarkable skills of detection and deduction to untangle a web woven of criminals and cults, stolen treasures and fallen women -- all the while under the unblinking eye of a ruthless, remorseless killer.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post
Amelia Peabody is Indiana Jones, Sherlock Holmes, and Miss Marple all in one.
Peter Theroux
If the reader is tempted to draw another obvious comparison between Amelia Peabody and Indiana Jones, it's Amelia -- in wit and daring -- by a landslide.
NY Times Book Review
Chicago Sun-Times
Baltimore Sun
The sparkle and suspense never lessen.
USA Today
A new Amelia Peabody mystery is like visiting old friends.
San Francisco Examiner
Peters' witty writing and her cast of outrageous characters move the story along at a brisk pace.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In April of this year, Peters, who has been writing mysteries for 30 years, was honored as a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. This captivating novel, her 10th Amelia Peabody tale (following Seeing a Large Cat, 1997), validates her peers' high regard. Prospects for the 1907 excavation season in Egypt seem lackluster for the Emersons, since Professor Emerson, Amelia's beloved husband, can't abide the fools who administrate such activities--and makes no secret of that fact. But the family, including their adult son, Ramses, and his foster siblings, Nefret and David, departs for Egypt nevertheless after incidents in London point to the resurfacing of their old nemesis, known as the Master Criminal. The younger generation buys an ancient papyrus from an antiquities dealer and sets in motion a sinister chain of events. Two horrendous murders draw all of the Emersons further into the fray, and at times it seems as if the Master Criminal and his minions will at last best Amelia. But by drawing on the skills of all, the Emerson contingent once again brings villains to justice. The plot is complicated and involving, but the maturing of Ramses, Nefret and David offers particular pleasure and gives the book depth and poignance. Rich in characterization, incident and humor, this latest adventure of Amelia Peabody is a grand, galloping adventure with a heart as big as the Great Pyramid itself. Author tour. (Aug.)
School Library Journal
YA--Fans will gravitate to this new addition to this popular murder-archaeology series. From the streets of London to the Egyptian desert, the Peabody-Emerson family is in danger. This complex story set in 1907 opens with an attempt to kidnap Amelia. Grisly murder, villains in disguise, and intrigue follow the family to excavation sites in Egypt, and neither the characters nor readers initially understand why. Teens will be pleased that the children introduced in earlier volumes have greater roles in this story. Son Ramses, his friend David, and Amelia's and Emerson's adopted daughter, Nefret, are mature young people who obey and disobey their parents when it suits them. All is related through Amelia's first-person, witty narration. This one is sure to be as popular as Peters's earlier books.--Claudia Moore, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Tenth in this long-running, long-winded series ("Seeing a Large Cat", 1997, etc.) finds Egyptologists Professor and Amelia Emerson, their clever, stoic son Ramses, adopted daughter Nefret, and Ramses' friend David, lovingly accepted as a member of the family, preparing to return to Egypt after a stay in London marred by a crude attempt to kidnap Amelia, engineered, in Ramses' view, by their old, elusive enemy Sethos. The Professor's officially assigned task this 1906 season is to clean out some previously opened, not very important tombs, while rival Theodore Davis has been given the exploration of what is probably a royal burial site. Soon after the family returns to Luxor, Ramses and Davis, in native disguise, go on the prowl for news of Sethos, purchasing along the way a fine papyrus scroll from one Yassuf Mahmud, then getting attacked in the process and rescued by prostitute Layla. The discovery, days later, of Mahmud's mutilated body floating in the Nile is just the beginning of a series of grotesque happenings, all sandwiched between dinner parties and a visit from Emerson's brother Walter, with wife Evelyn and their daughter Lia, who's madly in love with David, as Ramses is with Nefret (in tight-lipped silence, of course). The body count rises and so does Emerson's fury at Davis' careless handling of his very important find. There are further attacks on Amelia and fleeting appearances by Sethos. By the time the major source of evil is uncovered, it's just one more unconvincing twist in the tangled plot. The author's mixture much as before: a fun trip for readers with an interest in Egyptology; for others, a confusing, fussily written, long, long trek.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Amelia Peabody Series, #10
Product dimensions:
6.76(w) x 9.66(h) x 1.36(d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Peters earned her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago's famed Oriental Institute. She was named Grand Master at the inaugural Anthony Awards in 1986 and Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1998. In 2003, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Malice Domestic Convention. She lives in a historic farmhouse in western Maryland.

Brief Biography

A farm in rural Maryland
Date of Birth:
September 29, 1927
Place of Birth:
Canton, Illinois
M.A., Ph.D. in Egyptology, Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1952

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