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The Hippopotamus Pool (Amelia Peabody Series #8)

The Hippopotamus Pool (Amelia Peabody Series #8)

4.4 60
by Elizabeth Peters

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"A masked stranger offers to reveal an Egyptian queen's lost tomb...and Amelia Peabody and her irascible archaeologist husband are intrigued, to say the least. When the guide mysteriously disappears before he tells his secret, the Peabodys sail to Thebes to follow his trail, helped -- and hampered -- by their teenage son, Ramses, and beautiful ward, Nefret. Before


"A masked stranger offers to reveal an Egyptian queen's lost tomb...and Amelia Peabody and her irascible archaeologist husband are intrigued, to say the least. When the guide mysteriously disappears before he tells his secret, the Peabodys sail to Thebes to follow his trail, helped -- and hampered -- by their teenage son, Ramses, and beautiful ward, Nefret. Before the sands of time shift very far, all wil be risking their lives foiling murders, kidnappers, grave robbers, and ancient curses. And the Hippopotamus Pool? It's a legend of war and wits that Amelia is translating, one that alerts her to a hippo of a different type -- a fefarious, overweight art dealer who may become her next archenemy!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A menacing cloud hangs over the eighth adventure of 19th-century archeologists Amelia Peabody and her husband, Radcliffe Emerson (seen before in The Snake, the Crocodile and the Dog). Unfortunately, the cloud rains suspense only in the book's final quarter, long after the warning of a dire threat has paled. In Cairo, Amelia and Emerson are visited by a mysterious man who shows them a scarab ring and claims that it is the symbol of the High Priest of Queen Tetisheri, whom he has sworn to protect. He offers to lead them to her tomb, thereby passing his "sacred duty" onto Emerson. But after the man acts as if he's poisoned and then vanishes, the couple dismiss his words. They are soon reminded of his visit when a notorious antiquities dealer, whom they liken to a hippopotamus because of his girth, warns them to watch whom they trust. With their preteen son, Ramses, and their ward, Nefret, the family travels to western Thebes in search of Tetisheri's tomb. There, after a series of minor mishaps, Ramses is abducted, requiring Amelia and Emerson to begin what seems a nearly impossible task to get him back. The melodramatic 19th-century writing style studded with Amelia's sly wit makes this series unique to the subgenre of historical mysteries. Major ad/promo. (Apr.)
Library Journal
A masked stranger pinpoints the location of an Egyptian queen's lost tomb for Amelia and husband Emerson and then disappears. The pair set off in search of queen Tetisheri's tomb, encountering all the usual amusing situations, disguises, villains, and murderers. A necessary purchase.
Emily Melton
The prolific Peters' latest features intrepid British feminist and Egyptologist extraordinaire Amelia Peabody Emerson. Amelia, along with handsome husband Radcliffe, precocious son Ramses, and attractive young ward Nefret, returns to her beloved Thebes, this time to excavate a heretofore undiscovered tomb that supposedly contains the remains--and priceless treasures--of Queen Tetisheri. Amelia's old nemesis, the Master Criminal, may be gone, but there are still plenty of obstacles to overcome: heat, bats, rock avalanches, assorted thieves and scoundrels, greedy antiquities dealers, pesky tourists, and ambitious journalists, not to mention a wickedly tricky art dealer with the physique of a hippopotamus and a mousy governess who's not the quiet scholar she first seems. The excavation is progressing satisfactorily if slowly. Then Ramses and Nefret are kidnapped. Terrified for the youngsters' safety, Amelia must use all of her considerable detecting skills--including the dreaded parasol-weapon--to find out who has taken the children and why. Although readers familiar with the series may find the plot all too familiar, they won't care much because it is Peters' wonderful, rapid-fire wit and the delightful Amelia herself--practical, strong minded, and, for a Victorian lady, quite liberated and free-thinking--that make this series such a long-running success.
Marilyn Stasio
"Another daring exploit in 19th-century Egypt...it's a dandy one...such fun." -- New York Times Book Review
New York Times Book Review
"If the reader is tempted to draw anotehr obvious comparison between Amelia Peabody and Indiana Jones, it's Amelia -- in wit and daring -- by a landslide.
Washington Times
"Give yourself a serious treat by getting this one immediately...[And] if you have a bad back, get out the old girdle, because otherwise you are going to hurt your ribs laughing."
Seattle Times
"Great fun!" -- Seattle Times/Post-Intelligencer
Baltimore Sun
"The Hippopotamus Pool will reassure Elizabeth Peters fans -- the sparkle and the suspense never lessen."
Kirkus Reviews
Once more into the ancient tombs of Egypt with staunch 19th- century archaeologists Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson (The Snake, the Crocodile and the Dog, 1992, etc.). With their powerful enemy Sethos disposed of, the Emersons—along with loquacious son Ramses and lovely young ward Nefret—are aboard their boat Amelia, moored on the Nile, as they prepare to explore the possible site of Queen Tetisheri's tomb in Thebes. The undertaking was prefaced by a strange encounter in a Luxor hotel with a mysterious stranger who talked of reincarnation, claimed to know the tomb's exact location, and died of poison in the middle of the meeting. His body vanished, to be found days later floating in the Nile. All of this the Emersons attribute to Signor Riccetti, kingpin of illicit trade in antiquities. Meanwhile, there are other evil forces to reckon with, like Abd el Hamed, a rival dealer, whose abused apprentice David, a grandson of Radcliffe's trusted helper Abdullah, comes under Amelia's wing and later proves his worth when Ramses is kidnapped. Nefret, too, is at risk, but with help from Radcliffe's brother Walter, his sensitive wife Evelyn, and Amelia's usual fearless and intuitive instinct, all ends well for everyone but the bad guys.

Like many of the previous seven in this series, a wordy confusion of vile intentions, powerful enemies, dramatic rescues, excruciatingly detailed forays into the ancient past, and Amelia's cool. Fans of the latter may love it, but most readers will be numbed by the heavy-handed plotting.

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
Amelia Peabody Series , #8
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
7.26(w) x 11.08(h) x 1.17(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Hippopotamus Pool

By Elizabeth Peters

Grand Central Publishing

Copyright © 2013 Elizabeth Peters
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4555-7239-7


The Trouble with Unknown Enemies Is That They Are So Difficult to Identify

Through the open windows of the ballroom the soft night breeze of Egypt cooled the flushed faces of the dancers. Silk and satin glowed; jewels sparkled; gold braid glittered; the strains of sweet music filled the air. The New Year's Eve Ball at Shepheard's Hotel was always an outstanding event in Cairo's social season, but the dying of this December day marked an ending of greater than usual import. In little more than an hour the chimes would herald the start of a new century: January the first, nineteen hundred.

Having just completed a vigorous schottische in the company of Captain Carter, I sought a quiet corner behind a potted palm and gave myself up to speculation of the sort in which any serious-minded individual would engage on such an occasion. What would the next one hundred years bring to a world that yet suffered all the ancient ills of mankind—poverty, ignorance, war, the oppression of the female sex? Optimist though I am, and blessed with an excellent imagination (excessively blessed, according to my husband), I could not suppose a single century would see those problems solved. I was confident, however, that my gender would finally achieve the justice so long denied it, and that I myself would live to see that glorious day. Careers for women! Votes for women! Women solicitors and women surgeons! Women judges, legislators, leaders of enlightened nations in which females stood shoulder-to-shoulder and back-to- back with men!

I felt I could claim some small credit for the advances I confidently expected to see. I myself had broken one barrier: as the first of my sex to work as a field archaeologist in Egypt, I had proved that a "mere" woman could endure the same dangers and discomforts, and meet the same professional standards, as a man. Candor as well as affection compels me to admit that I could never have done it without the wholehearted support of a remarkable individual—Radcliffe Emerson, the most preeminent Egyptologist of this or any century, and my devoted spouse.

Though the room was filled with people, my eyes were drawn to him as by a magnet. Emerson would stand out in any group. His splendid height and athletic form, his chiseled features and bright blue eyes, the dark hair that frames his intellectual brow—but I could go on for several pages describing Emerson's exceptional physical and mental characteristics. Humbly I acknowledged the blessings of heaven. What had I done to deserve the affection of such a man?

Quite a lot, in fact. I would be the first to admit that my physical characteristics are not particularly prepossessing (though Emerson has, in private, remarked favorably on certain of them). Coarse black hair and steely gray eyes, a bearing more noted for dignity than grace, a stature of indeterminate size—these are not the characteristics that win a man's heart. Yet I had won the heart of Radcliffe Emerson, not once but twice; I had stood at his side, yes, and fought at his side, during the remarkable adventures that had so often interrupted our professional activities. I had rescued him from danger, nursed him through illness and injury, given him a son ...

And raised that son to his present age of twelve and a half years. (With Ramses one counted by months, if not days.) Though I have encountered mad dogs, Master Criminals, and murderers of both sexes, I consider the raising of Ramses my most remarkable achievement. When I recall the things Ramses has done, and the things other people have (often justifiably) tried to do to Ramses, I feel a trifle faint.

It was with Ramses and his adopted sister Nefret that Emerson stood chatting now. The girl's golden-red hair and fair face were in striking contrast to my son's Arabic coloring and saturnine features, but I was startled to note that he was now as tall as she. I had not realized how much he had grown over the past summer.

Ramses was talking. He usually is. I wondered what he could be saying to bring such a formidable scowl to Emerson's face, and hoped he was not lecturing his father on Egyptology. Though tediously average in other ways, Ramses was something of a linguistic genius, and he had pursued the study of the Egyptian language since infancy. Emerson feels a natural paternal pride in his son's abilities, but he does not like to have them shoved down his throat.

I was about to rise and go to them when the music began again and Emerson, scowling even more horribly, waved the two young people away. As soon as she turned, Nefret was approached by several young gentlemen, but Ramses took her arm and led—or, to be more accurate, dragged—her onto the floor. The frustrated suitors dispersed, looking sheepish, except for one—a tall, slightly built individual with fair hair, who remained motionless, following the girl's movements with a cool appraising stare and a raised eyebrow.

Though Ramses's manners left something to be desired, I could not but approve his action. The girl's lovely face and form attracted men as a rose attracts bees, but she was too young for admirers—and far too young for the admiration of the fair-haired gentleman. I had not met him but I had heard of him. The good ladies of Cairo's European society had had a great deal to say about Sir Edward Washington. He came of a respectable family from Northamptonshire, but he was a younger son, without prospects, and with a devastating effect on susceptible young women. (Not to mention susceptible older women.)

The seductive strains of a Strauss waltz filled the room and I looked up with a smile at Count Stradivarius, who was approaching me with the obvious intention of asking me to dance. He was a bald, portly little man, not much taller than I, but I love to waltz, and I was about to take the hand he had extended when the count was obliterated—removed, replaced—by another.

"Will you do me the honor, Peabody?" said Emerson.

It had to be Emerson—no one else employs my maiden name as a term of intimate affection—but for an instant I thought I must be asleep and dreaming. Emerson did not dance. Emerson had often expressed himself, with the emphasis that marks his conversation, on the absurdity of dancing.

How strange he looked! Under his tan lurked a corpselike pallor. The sapphire-blue eyes were dull, the well-cut lips tightly closed, the thick black hair wildly disheveled, the broad shoulders braced as if against a blow. He looked ... he looked terrified. Emerson, who fears nothing on earth, afraid?

I stared, mesmerized, into his eyes, and saw a spark illumine their depths. I knew that spark. It was inspired by temper—Emerson's famous temper, which has won him the name of Father of Curses from his admiring Egyptian workmen. The color rushed back into his face; the cleft in his prominent chin quivered ominously.

"Speak up, Peabody," he snarled. "Don't sit there gaping. Will you honor me, curse it?"

I believe I am not lacking in courage, but it required all the courage I possessed to accede. I did not suppose Emerson had the vaguest idea how to waltz. It would be quite like him to assume that if he took a notion to do a thing he could do it, without the need of instruction or practice. But the pallor of his manly countenance assured me that the idea terrified him even more than it did me, and affection rose triumphant over concern for my toes and my fragile evening slippers. I placed my hand in the broad, calloused palm that had been offered (he had forgot his gloves, but this was certainly not the time to remind him of that little error).

"Thank you, my dear Emerson."

"Oh," said Emerson. "You will?"

"Yes, my dear."

Emerson took a deep breath, squared his shoulders, and seized me.

The first few moments were exceedingly painful, particularly to my feet and my ribs. I am proud to say that no cry escaped my lips and that no sign of anguish marred the serenity of my smile. After a while Emerson's desperate grip relaxed. "Hmmm," he said. "Not so bad, eh, Peabody?"

I took the first deep breath I had enjoyed since he took hold of me and realized that my martyrdom had been rewarded. For so large a man, Emerson can move with catlike grace when he chooses; encouraged by my apparent enjoyment, he had begun to enjoy himself too, and he had fallen into the rhythm of the music.

"Not bad at all," Emerson repeated, grinning. "They told me I would like it once I got the hang of it."


"Ramses and Nefret. They were taking lessons this past summer, you know; they taught me. I made them promise not to tell you. It was to be a surprise for you, my dear. I know how much you like this sort of thing. I must say it is a good deal more enjoyable than I had expected. I suppose it is you who ... Peabody? Are you crying? Curse it, did I tread on your toes?"

"No, my dear." In shocking defiance of custom I clung closer to him, blotting my tears on his shoulder. "I weep because I am so moved. To think that you would make such a sacrifice for me—"

"A small enough return, my darling Peabody, for the sacrifices you have made and the dangers you have faced for me." The words were muffled, for his cheek rested on the top of my head and his lips were pressed to my temple.

A belated sense of decorum returned. I strove to remove myself a short distance. "People are staring, Emerson. You are holding me too close."

"No, I am not," said Emerson.

"No," I said, yielding shamelessly to his embrace. "You aren't."

Emerson, having "got the hang of it," would allow no one else to waltz with me. I declined all other partners, not only because I knew it would please him but because I required the intervals between waltzes to catch my breath. Emerson waltzed as he did everything else, with enormous energy, and between the tightness of his grasp and the vigor of his movements, which had, on more than one occasion, literally lifted me off my feet, it took me some time to recover.

The intervals gave me the opportunity to observe the other guests. The study of human nature in all its manifestations is one no person of intelligence should ignore—and what better place to observe it than in a setting such as this?

The styles of that year were very pretty, I thought, without the exaggerated outlines that had in the past distorted (and would, alas, soon again distort) the female form. Skirts fell gracefully from the waist, sans hoops or bustles; bodices were modestly draped. Black was a popular shade with older ladies, but how rich was the shimmer of black satin, how cobweb-fine the sable lace at throat and elbow! The sparkle of gems and of jet, the pale glimmer of pearls adorned the fabric and the white throats of the wearers. What a pity, I thought, that men allowed themselves to be limited by the meaningless vagaries of fashion! In most cultures, from the ancient Egyptian until comparatively modern times, the male swanked as brilliantly as the female, and presumably took as much pleasure as she in the acquisition of jewels and embroidered and lace-trimmed garments.

The only exceptions to masculine drabness of attire were the brilliant uniforms of the Egyptian Army officers. In fact, none of these gentlemen were Egyptians. Like all other aspects of the government, the army was under British control and officered by Englishmen or Europeans. The uniforms denoting members of our own military forces were plainer. There were a good many of them present that night, and in my imagination I seemed to see a faint shadow darkening those fresh young faces, so bravely mustachioed and flushed with laughter. They would soon be on their way to South Africa, where battle raged. Some would never return.

With a sigh and a murmured prayer (all a mere woman can offer in a world where men determine the fate of the young and helpless) I returned to my study of human nature. Those who were not dancing sat or stood around the room watching the intricacies of the cotillion, or chatting with one another. A good many were acquaintances of mine; I was interested to observe that Mrs. Arbuthnot had gained another several stone and that Mr. Arbuthnot had got a young lady whom I did not recognize backed into a corner. I could not see what he was doing, but the young lady's expression suggested he was up to his old tricks. Miss Marmaduke (of whom more hereafter) had no partner. Perched on the edge of her chair, her face set in an anxious smile, she looked like a bedraggled black crow. Next to her, ignoring her with cool discourtesy, was Mrs. Everly, wife of the Interior Minister. From the animation that wreathed her face as she carried on a conversation across Miss Marmaduke with the latter's neighbor, I deduced that the lady, swathed in black veiling, was a Person of Importance. Was she a recent widow? No lesser loss could dictate such heavy mourning; but if that were the case, what was she doing at a social function such as this? Perhaps, I mused, her loss was not recent. Perhaps, like a certain regal widow, she had determined never to leave off the visible signs of bereavement.

(I reproduce the preceding paragraphs in order to demonstrate to the Reader how much can be offered to the serious student of human nature even in so frivolous a social setting as that one.)

It would be my last social event for some time. In a few more days we would leave the comforts of Cairo's finest hotel for ...

Well, only Heaven and Emerson knew where. It was one of his engaging little habits, to delay until the last possible moment before telling me where we would excavate that year. Irritating as this could be, it had a certain titillation, and I amused myself by considering the possibilities. Dahshûr? We had never finished exploring the interior of the Bent Pyramid, and pyramids, I must confess, are a passion of mine. Amarna would be equally to my taste, however, since it was there that my first romantic experiences with Emerson took place. The Theban area, too, had its attractions: royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, the majestic temple of Queen Hatshepsut ...

My meditations were interrupted by Nefret and Ramses. Her rose-petal cheeks aglow, the girl dropped into the chair at my side and glowered at her foster brother, who stood with arms folded and face expressionless. Ramses had graduated to long trousers that year—the sudden elongation of his lower limbs having made that decision advisable on aesthetic if no other grounds—and with his curly hair brushed into a rampant crest, he resembled a critical stork.

"Ramses says I may not dance with Sir Edward," Nefret exclaimed. "Aunt Amelia, tell him—"

"Sir Edward," said Ramses, prominent nose quivering, "is not a suitable person for Nefret to know. Mother, tell her—"

"Be quiet, both of you," I said sharply. "I will be the judge of who constitutes a proper associate for Nefret."

"Hmph," said Ramses.

Nefret said something I did not understand. I supposed it to be one of the Nubian swearwords to which she resorted when in a temper. Temper, and the heat of the room, would have reduced any other female countenance to an ugly state of red-faced perspiration, but she could never appear other than beautiful; her cornflower-blue eyes sparkled wickedly and the sheen of perspiration that bedewed her skin made it glow as if lit from within.

"Ramses," I said, "please go and ask Miss Marmaduke to dance. You owe her that courtesy, since she is to be your tutor."

"But Mama—" Ramses's voice cracked. Ordinarily he was able to control the inevitable fluctuations, from soprano to baritone, that mark a lad's adolescence; on this occasion emotion had made him lose control, and his use of the childish form of address which he had recently abjured was further indication of perturbation.

"I believe your hearing is not deficient, Ramses," I remarked.

Ramses's countenance resumed its normal impassivity. "No, Mother, it is not, as I am sure you are aware. I will of course obey your command, for such I take it to be despite the manner in which it was couched, though I cannot but regard the use of the word 'please' in this context as a meaningless—"

"Ramses," I said loudly, for I knew perfectly well what he was up to; he was quite capable of continuing the sentence until it would be too late to lead the unfortunate Miss Marmaduke onto the floor.

"Yes, Mother." Ramses turned on his heel.

Her good humor restored, Nefret laughed and gave my hand a conspiratorial squeeze. "It serves him right for being so impertinent, Aunt Amelia. Miss Marmaduke is a perfect old maid!"


Excerpted from The Hippopotamus Pool by Elizabeth Peters. Copyright © 2013 Elizabeth Peters. Excerpted by permission of Grand Central Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Peters was born and brought up in Illinois and earned her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago's famed Oriental Institute. Peters was named Grand Master at the inaugural Anthony Awards in 1986 and Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America at the Edgar Awards in 1998. She lives in a historic farmhouse in western Maryland.

You can learn more at:

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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Hippopotamus Pool (Amelia Peabody Series #8) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
SleeplessnFlorida0927 More than 1 year ago
Who wouldn't love Amelia Peabody and her family? I am in the process of re-reading the series and adding the books to my nook. The author is a credited Egyptologist so you will only get the true history of Egypt which I love, but add that to excellent writing, little or no profanity and you have a very readable, and enjoyable series of books. The author gives just the right amount of romance and mystery/suspense to engage men or women readers. I highly recommend this series for pure enjoyment, just hope the author will write more, I believe there are presently 19.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If there is any problem with The Hippopotamus Pool, it is the excess of riches that Elizabeth Peters lavishes on her readers. As in all of her later novels, once her wonderful cast of characters started to grow, it is possible to lose track of the mystery in the family reunion. Still, the characters, the setting, and the style are dazzling, and the mystery won't disappoint.
Chaquita-Philly More than 1 year ago
Full of fun and excitement, this is a wonderful chapter in the series. I've read them all and this one is excellent. But, you'll want to start at the beginning, won't you?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im back
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I smile and slowly guide my di.ck into your pus.sy
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always dashing here and there to save the antiqularies and rounding up criminals as they go about their everyday chores of being the finest egyptologist in egypt
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Mikoto will u marry me?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After tonight, l will no longer be chatting with y'all
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Hey any1 want to chat with e
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