The Falcon at the Portal by Elizabeth Peters
Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: #11 in the Amelia Peabody series publication order, #13 in story chronology order
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2000 Recorded Books (Book originally published 1999)
Length: 15 hours, 23 minutes
Read by: Barbara Rosenblat
The Short Version:
In 1911 Egypt the extended Peabody-Emerson family may be too wrapped up in various intrigues and emotional dramas to actually get any archaeological excavation accomplished.
Why I Read It:
This is one of my go to audio series and I was due for another visit with Amelia Peabody and her family
From the publisher:
The Land of the Pharaohs harbors more secrets than any tomb can hide.
In Egypt for the 1911 archaeological season, Amelia Peabody and her family are not anticipating trouble, but it finds them nonetheless. Their young friend David is accused of selling ancient artifacts, and it’s up to the Emersons to expose the real culprit. But the body of an American discovered at the bottom of their excavation shaft and a child of mysterious antecedents are sparking twin crises that threaten to tear the family apart. Amelia brings her estimable powers of deduction to bear, but she might not survive long enough to unravel more than one perplexing puzzle—because suddenly someone is shooting bullets in her direction . . . and coming too close for comfort!
Note on series order: I read this one out of publication order because I’m reading the series in order of the story. You can find the chronology here.
I’m hesitant to say anything that will give away much related to ongoing storylines because there are some crucial things that happen in this book that will affect characters in future books.
I really enjoy the way that real people, events and places are such an integral part of these books. Howard Carter (who discovered King Tut’s tomb) as well as other prominent real people are integrated into the stories. It was fun to hear his financial sponsor Lord Carnarvon mentioned because we’d recently watched a special about Highclere Castle (where Downton Abbey is filmed) and it’s the ancestral home of Lord Carnarvon. I love how all those little threads of unrelated information all meet up in the oddest of places and ways.
The mysteries in this one are typical of this series. There’s always trouble and or deaths that may interfere with the planned excavation and potentially endanger one or more members of the family. Amelia is sure she can figure out the truth and her husband is his usual blustery and gruff but with a soft side self. The younger generation of the family is really becoming more primary than secondary characters. As they have grown over the course of ht series it’s fun to see them taking more prominent roles.
As always there were plenty of moments that had me giggling as I was driving around listening to this. Typically these involve Amelia’s observations or wild theories but sometimes it’s just her general upbeat outlook.
The girl’s eyes followed him with a dog-like adoration. I let out an inaudible sigh. So it was to be Ramses with this one. All the new female servants fell in love with my husband or my son, or both. It was only a minor inconvenience, since Emerson never noticed and Ramses was too well-brought-up to misbehave — not in my house at any rate! — but I did get tired of stumbling over misty-eyed females.
Ramses and Emerson had begun unpacking the boxes of books we had brought with us but had stopped midway as men always do, leaving books on the floor, on the chairs, and on the tables.
I went first to the little shelter I had caused to be set up nearby. I always make it a point to arrange a rug and a few chairs and a table and other modest comforts in a shady place so that we can retire to it for refreshment and occasional rest periods. Unnecessary discomfort is inefficient as well as foolish.
“Unnecessary discomfort is inefficient as well as foolish” may be my new motto,
Barbara Rosenblat narrates these books perfectly. She’s just seriously enough to be believable as the self-confident (sometimes overly so) Amelia. At the same time there’s just a hint of a wink in her voice to let the listener know that she’s smiling as she’s reading certain sections.
This continues to be one of my favorite series to experience via audio but you really need to start at the beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank.
Rating 3.5/5 for the book
Rating 4/5 for the narration
SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.