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    Review of A RIVER IN THE SKY by Elizabeth Peters (see her website)

    Amelia Peabody Mysteries

    William Morrow, April 2010

    With war on the horizon, the British government is concerned over German spies in the Ottoman Empire. Concerned that a supposed British treasure seeker who is supposedly hunting for the Ark of the Covanent in Jerusalem might actually be working with the Germans, British Military Intelligence asks archeologist Emerson to check out the situation. Emerson's wife, Amelia Peabody is not included in the invitation but she is quick to bring herself into the picture and she, Emerson, adoptive daughter Neferet and foster son David head for Palestine. Ramses, Peabody and Emerson's son, is already working on a dig in Palestine and is not happy to hear that his parents are coming to visit. But when he discovers a murdered spy's body and is kidnapped by a German spy, he becomes involved up to his neck--a neck that just might not survive the process.

    Peadoby is quick to take command of the situation, setting up camp in Jerusalem, making sure Emerson quiets the riots between Moslem, Christian, and Jew (combined against archeologists digging in holy ground), and attempting to unravel the mystery of their fellow-traveler, a man who claims that he was, in earlier lives, Moses, Joshua, St. Paul, and other noted characters from Biblical history and that he holds the secret to the location of the Ark.

    Author Elizabeth Peters (see more reviews of mysteries by Peters) takes Amelia Peabody and her clan out of her familiar Egypt to a region that has been the center of conflict for thousands of years (and still is). Under harsh and incompetent Ottoman rule, the Arab world is restive, yet Britain, which is quick to occupy territories in the name of rescue but painfully slow to release them, is hardly seen as the rescuer. The Germans are quick to exploit the possibilities. After all, Germany is powerful but its Empire is limited.

    The charm of A RIVER IN THE SKY, like that of the other books in the Amelia Peabody series, comes from Peabody's personality--she's always certain she's in the right, generally prepared for just about any eventuality, still smitten with her husband (while not unaware of the charms of other males), dotting on her children, and generally quite annoying in a completely charming way. I find the double-history (the book itself is set in 1910, but as archeologists, the characters are interested in the bronze-age civilizations of Egypt and Israel) fascinating as well. A RIVER IN THE SKY is probably not the best book to start with--for one thing, most of the series is set in Egypt. But for fans of the series, it's a welcome addition.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 4/19/10

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