A River in the Sky (Amelia Peabody Series #19)

( 138 )

Overview

August 1910. Banned from the Valley of the Kings, Amelia Peabody and husband Emerson are persuaded to follow would-be archaeologist Major George Morley on an expedition to Palestine. Somewhere in this province of the corrupt, crumbling Ottoman Empire—the Holy Land of three religions—Morley is determined to unearth the legendary Ark of the Covenant.

At the request of British Intelligence, Emerson will be keeping an eye on the seemingly inept Morley, believed to be an agent of the...

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A River in the Sky (Amelia Peabody Series #19)

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Overview

August 1910. Banned from the Valley of the Kings, Amelia Peabody and husband Emerson are persuaded to follow would-be archaeologist Major George Morley on an expedition to Palestine. Somewhere in this province of the corrupt, crumbling Ottoman Empire—the Holy Land of three religions—Morley is determined to unearth the legendary Ark of the Covenant.

At the request of British Intelligence, Emerson will be keeping an eye on the seemingly inept Morley, believed to be an agent of the Kaiser sent to stir up trouble in this politically volatile land. Amelia hopes to prevent a catastrophically unprofessional excavation from destroying priceless historical finds and sparking an armed protest by infuriated Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Meanwhile, Amelia's headstrong son, Ramses, working on a dig at Samaria, encounters an unusual party of travelers and makes a startling discovery—information that he must pass along to his parents in Jerusalem . . . if he can get there alive.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in 1910, the delightful 19th Amelia Peabody novel from bestseller Peters (after Tomb of the Golden Bird) takes Amelia and her husband, Emerson, to Palestine, where an English adventurer, George Morley, is planning to excavate Jerusalem's Temple Mount in search of the Ark of the Covenant. Gen. David Spencer, the director of Military Operations in London, suspects Morley, an amateur archeologist at best, of spying for the Germans, whose influence has been growing in the Middle East. Spencer wants Egyptologists Amelia and Emerson to stop Morley from undertaking a project sure to offend the three religious groups that consider the temple site holy. Meanwhile, son Ramses embarks on a treacherous journey to convey to his parents important information learned from two travelers he meets while on a dig in Samaria. Once again, MWA Grandmaster Peters uses vivid settings, sharp characterizations, and deft dialogue to transport the reader to another time and place. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Quelling a riot at the Temple Mount and chasing a villain through an ancient tunnel are the latest adventures of the Emerson family, as they detour to Palestine in 1910 when a mysterious German archaeologist, Frau Von Eine, and her Muslim partner, Mansur, kidnap son Ramses, who is working in Palestine. Ameila Peabody and husband Radcliffe, meanwhile, investigate amateur archaeologist Morley, who has ties to the villains. Much of the book centers around the search for Ramses and his escape. Descriptions of the history, culture, archaeology, and landscape impart significance and realism while educating the reader. Still, the plot is hazy, and the importance of the artifact, deemed so significant by the villains, is not sufficiently explained. Multiple shifts from "Manuscript H," which recounts Ramses's activities, to Amelia's first-person narrative may confuse readers. VERDICT The plot is less riveting than many Peters mysteries, but series fans will enjoy sharing another adventure with the forthright Amelia, powerful Radcliffe, and quick-thinking Ramses. Fans should note that this is out of chronological order from the rest of the saga. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/09.]—Sally Bickley, Del Mar Coll. Lib., Corpus Christi, TX
Kirkus Reviews
The Peabody dynasty finds danger in 1910 Palestine. While Ramses Peabody toils on a dig near Jerusalem, his parents, Amelia and Emerson, together with their adopted daughter Nefret and David, the Egyptian boy they've taken in, are relaxing in England until Emerson is approached by the government to sort out a problem with Mr. Morley, a treasure hunter who's secured permission from the corrupt Ottoman Empire to excavate near the Temple Mount. The enterprise would be guaranteed to cause trouble with members of the three major religious groups who hold the area sacred even if Morley weren't suspected of being a German spy at a time when Germany is trying to gain influence in the volatile area. Soon enough, Morley departs, deserting his colleague, the Reverend Panagopolous, who seems to be a mentally disturbed religious fanatic. Meanwhile, back in Palestine, Ramses is kidnapped when he learns too much about the German archaeologist Madame von Eine and her mysterious companion Mansur. His family arrives in Palestine, where they have permission to dig near Morley, expecting Ramses to join them. When he fails to appear, David sneaks off to find him. Indefatigable Amelia wastes no time organizing both the dig and the effort to find Ramses and David. Though the family receives help from a shadowy group known as the Sons of Abraham, they all face grave danger before their mission can be accomplished. Fans should welcome an installment significantly less convoluted than most of Amelia's adventures (Tomb of the Golden Bird, 2007, etc.).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061246272
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/26/2011
  • Series: Amelia Peabody Series , #19
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 234,503
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Peters

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.

Biography

Neither the Great Depression nor the lack of a public library in her small hometown of Canton, Illinois, deterred Barbara Mertz (the future Elizabeth Peters) from becoming an avid reader. Yet, when her family moved to a suburb of Chicago, she was elated to discover the riches contained in the town's local library and proceeded to devour every book she could get her hands on. She began writing in high school; but by that time she had already decided to become an archaeologist.

Mertz received a scholarship to the University of Chicago, which boasted a world-famous Egyptology department. Her mother, an eminently practical soul, encouraged her daughter to become a teacher; but after taking only two education courses, Mertz knew a career in the classroom was not for her. Determined to follow her dream, she moved over to the university's Oriental Institute, and received her Ph.D. in Egyptology at the age of 23.

The post-WWII job market wasn't kind to women in general, much less to women seeking careers in archaeology. Mertz married and began a family, but never lost sight of her life's ambition. While she was raising her two children, she decided to try her hand at writing. Her first few attempts were never published, but they did land her an agent; and in 1964 she published her first book, Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt.

Mertz authored two additional works on archaeology before foraying into fiction in 1966. The Master of Blacktower is the first of several gothic suspense novels written under the pseudonym Barbara Michaels. (In her biography, she explains that the use of pseudonyms helps readers to distinguish various types of books written by a single author.) The supernatural elements in the thrillers penned under the Michaels name have kept readers on the edge of their seats for decades.

In the 1970s, Mertz began writing under her second, more famous pseudonym, Elizabeth Peters. As Peters, she has authored books in three different series. Beginning in 1972 with The Seventh Sinner (1972), the first series features a glamorous librarian-turned-romance novelist named Jacqueline Kirby (the final Jacqueline Kirby mystery, Naked Once More, won a coveted Agatha Award in 1989). The second series, starring American art historian Vicky Bliss, debuted in 1973 with Borrower of the Night (Vicky's last outing was 2008's Laughter of Dead Kings). Then, in 1975, Peters introduced her most famous protagonist, archeologist/sleuth Amelia Peabody, in a dandy adventure entitled Crocodile on the Sandbank.

From the first, readers loved Amelia, a plucky Victorian feminist who—together with her husband, the distinguished Egyptologist Radcliffe Emerston—has gone on to solve countless mysteries in the Middle East. Peabody fans received an extra treat in 2003 with Amelia Peabody's Egypt: A Compendium to Her Journals, a nonfiction stroll through ancient Egypt that included nearly 600 photographs and illustrations, plus expert academic articles.

In addition to her three series, Mertz has written several standalone suspense novels as Elizabeth Peters. She has this to say about her successful, prolific career: "The craft of writing delights me. It is impossible to attain perfection; there is always something more to be learned—figuring out new techniques of plotting or characterization, struggling with recalcitrant sentences until I force them to approximate my meaning. And nothing is ever wasted. Everything one sees and hears, everything one learns, can be used."

Good To Know

The pseudonym Elizabeth Peters is taken from her two children, Elizabeth and Peter. She uses three pseudonyms so readers can tell the difference between the three types of books she writes: nonfiction archaeology as Barbara Mertz, supernatural thrillers as Barbara Michaels and historical mysteries as Peters. For the record, Mertz has called the pseudonyms "a horrible nuisance."
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    1. Also Known As:
      Barbara Mertz, Barbara Michaels
    2. Hometown:
      A farm in rural Maryland
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 29, 1927
    2. Place of Birth:
      Canton, Illinois
    1. Date of Death:
      August 8, 2013

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 138 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(37)

4 Star

(49)

3 Star

(19)

2 Star

(17)

1 Star

(16)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 139 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2010

    "River in the Sky" is a solid addition to the Amelia Peabody series

    The story takes place about 1910 and Ramses is in Palestine, escaping daily contact with Nefrit. The professor and Amelia are asked first to join a expedition to follow a map purported to the hiding place of the Ark of the Covenant, also in Palestine, then to keep watch on the expedition by His Majesty's government, which is watching the Ottoman Empire slowly collapse. By the time his parents arrive in Jaffa, Ramses has chanced upon a British agent, who shortly ends up in a shallow grave. Turkish soliders, a secret society, and an assortment of odd characters are either helping to reunite the family or trying to keep them apart . . . . which is anybody's guess!

    All the quirks, family tensions and humor that make the Peabody series fun to read are present. Only the 'Master Criminal' is missing but MO2's involvement ensures it has some of the flavor of the later books in the series.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 7, 2010

    REVIEW THE BOOK NOT THE PRICE ARRRGGGGG

    Book of course as usual met up to Amelia Peabody standards...I am so glad Ms. Peters continues to grace us with her writing presence.

    BUY IT, it's well worth it :D

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Big Amelia Peabody fan, disappointed

    I loved all of Elizabeth Peters' earlier books featuring Amelia Peabody Emerson and company, right up to and including Lord of the Silent (2001). The characters are a hoot, and even though the plots are predictable, they are the perfect rainy day/escapism books and it's fun to be taken along on the Emersons' latest adventure. This most recent book is much shorter than usual (307 pages) and it just doesn't feel as though Peters' heart is in it. I've found that all of the books after Lord of the Silent have gone downhill and have gotten tiresome. Although I appreciate the history that she weaves into her books, the more recent ones are definitely lacking. I am also unimpressed with whatever editor didn't catch that fact that a character's name keeps changing in some of the more recent books. This latest one falls between Guardian of the Horizon and Falcon at the Portal, which Peters has done before, but I think more successfully with Guardian of the Horizon. I would say you can give this one a miss.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2010

    Disappointing

    I was very disappointed in this book. The plot was weak and I couldn't really believe the reasons for the trip or that Ramses was really in danger. I felt that the book was hastily written with little or no thought to how it would turn out. I am hopeful that the story line previously used will continue and that it will live up to the standards of the previous books. I have read and have all of the Amelia Peabody books in my collection.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2010

    Another Peabody-Emerson adventure to savor!

    The Amelia Peabody books are a major component of my personal library and I found this to be an enjoyable addition to the series. The characters are the usual zany mix you expect from this author, and although the plot is a little slow in places, the setting and the characters make up for any small deficiencies of plot. There is, as always, a lot going on, with a story told by two narrators, and it a wonderful way to escape for a while to a different place and time.I would certainly recommend this book to any reader who enjoys offbeat characters, an unusual setting and well researched historical detail.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 20, 2011

    very highly recommended!

    If you love the Emersons and all their adventures, you'll love this one. Peabody is at her deductive best and Ramses in a fix as usual. Just the kind of light mystery to relax with over the Holidays.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 15, 2011

    Loved it!

    A Peters fan, I re-read her oldies every summer. This summer I decided to try the Emerson's new voyage. Surely I would miss Egypt! How stupid I was. As a Christian, I feel blessed that Elizabeth Peters struck for a place so critical to my faith. With her usual aplomb, she mixes adventure with history, never leaving the reader behind, yet never preaching a lecture. Thank you, Elizabeth Peters, for once again brightening my own summer adventures! Annette Dammer

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 30, 2010

    Highly Recommended

    I do recommend this book. If your a fan of Elizabeth Peters character, Amelia peabody, you have to read this book. I have all of them, and still enjoy rereading them. This one is not one of her greats, but very enjoyable. I got used to the way she wrote in third party, manuacript H, in parenthises, and it wasn't as whimesical as the others. But overall I really liked it. Maybe I liked them mostly in Egypt and England, don't know. I was besides my self when there were no Amelia Peabody books for almost 3 years, I kept calling the bookstore and was on the internet looking for them, am glad she's back. annie729

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 9, 2010

    love all her books couldn't wait

    not quite my favorite overall, but a good continuation and fun to fill in the 'missing years'...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2010

    Not One Of Her Best.

    I really enjoy reading this series most of the time. This one was not up to par. The story concept was ok however it lacked the suspense of the others. I knew what was happening before Amelia did. Next one I hope will be better. Not enough going on. These novels are usually action packed and I have a hard time figuring them out. Usually I can't put one down. This one took me over a week to read. Please stick to Egypt.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2010

    Too Predictable

    I was thrilled to see a new installment in the Peabody/Emerson family archeological mysteries. I rushed to get a copy and read it quickly. It was an adequate read, but disappointing for an Amelia Peabody fan who looks forward to the twists and turns her mysteries usually supply. It has all the familiar characters with little of their pizzazz. The premise was interesting and the method of returning the family to a prior time, out of sequence, was plausible and will give this pre-WWI plot a sequel. But the tension was missing through most of the story. I hope the next novel isn't so long a wait, but that it does have the twists, turns and picante of its predecessors.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    River in the Sky is a must for your library!

    Elizabeth Peters has done it again! This is a wonderful addition to the Amelia Peabody series. The Emersons go on a dramatic secret mission to Palestine, then under Turkish rule. The reader is transported to 1910 and can truly feel the atmosphere. Ramses is on an archelogical dig, but his life is threatened. His parents, Amelia and Emerson, need his help in thwarting an elicit dig, and are unaware of the danger to their son. The Turks and Germans are plotting in this pre-WWI era. Their are spies everywhere - even amongst archeologists. This novel is not chronologically placed at the end of the series. Ramses and Nefret are still "brother and sister".
    Although I recommend reading this entire series from beginning to end (as I have done several times!), it is not a nessesary prerequisite to understanding and enjoying this book. Once you pick it up, you will be sorry when it ends!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    Enjoyed this read.

    It was a long wait for this installment of the Peabody books, but it was worth the wait. I really enjoyed this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Only a Stream

    This is the nineteenth book in the Amelia Peabody series. Mrs. Peabody and her husband Emerson are very British archeologists who specialize in Egyptology in the early 1900's. This book, unlike the others, takes our adventurers to Palestine, otherwise known as the Holy Land, on a mission for the Crown. Even in these strange lands, loyal readers will find many of the familiar characters they have come to expect. Ramses, their son, has preceded them to a dig near Jerusalem, with a promise to stay out of trouble. Well, we know how that is going to turn out! The book is a light read, filled with very British, turn of the century attitudes. The author has created a world full of richness and detail. This is the first book of the series that I have read. I did not immediately take to the characters. The author seemed to be relying on instructing the reader as to whom the characters were and how they should interpreted, rather than allowing the reader to gain knowledge and insight into the characters through the action and flow of the storyline. As in any series, it would probably be best to start at the beginning and get to know the characters as they develop.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2014

    *****

    Peters brings the events alive while writing an absorbing mystery. This is another of her finest Amelia Peabody books!

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  • Posted September 6, 2013

    One of the best in an excellent series

    I have enjoyed the Amelia Peabody thrillers in the past, and I looked forward to reading this one. I was not disappointed.

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  • Posted May 12, 2013

    "River in the Sky" was not up to the standard expected

    "River in the Sky" was not up to the standard expected from Elizabeth Peters. I found the book boring and never finished it. A first for this series. If there is another is the Peabody/Emerson series, I'll definitely read it, despite the disappointing 19th in the series.

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  • Posted April 26, 2013

    Recommend highly

    I have read the complete series 3 times and will probably read it again. I enjoyed them all immensely

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  • Posted October 22, 2012

    Good read

    Easy enjoyable read.

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  • Posted February 27, 2012

    Good Read, but...

    I know this is the last book that was written in the series, but I wish it had been numbered where it fits in the series chronologically. After reading #18, you think you will get more about the future lives of the characters, but the disappointment when you are reading about a much earlier time in their lives.

    But as with all of her books -- Love it!

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