The eight book in the delightful historical mystery series about Amelia Peabody and her family. The year is 1900.

Amelia has her hands full with her son Ramses, who is now 12, and her adopted daughter Nefret, 15. She is trying to keep both of them out of trouble while trying to teach Nefret how to behave in Victorian society. That job isn’t easy because Amelia herself doesn’t much care for the society’s rules, either. Meanwhile, her best friend Evelyn and her husband Walter are having difficulties in their marriage. Amelia would like to help but doesn’t know how, for a change.

Soon, Emerson, Amelia, Ramses, and Nefret head for Egypt. Amelia hires also a teacher for the kids, Miss Gertrude Marmaduke. Miss Marmaduke seems like a mousy old maid but soon Amelia starts to suspect that she’s a more sinister person. At the very least, poor Miss Marmaduke is after Emerson!

Almost immediately after they return to Egypt, Amelia and Emerson are confronted by a mysterious person who claims to be the latest reincarnation of Queen Tetisheri’s High Priest. He claims to know the location of the Queen’s tomb and is willing to share it with the Emersons. However, Emerson is highly suspicious. Then the mystery man is poisoned and while Amelia goes for help, Emerson is hit in the head and the mystery man disappears. Emerson is still determined to excavate, as usual.

The Peabody-Emersons are in a fine form with their usual witty banter. Many of the characters from the previous books return from the journalist Kevin O’Connell to Howard Carter. Walter and Evelyn have a larger part than in the previous books which I enjoyed greatly.

Unfortunately, the mystery part of the book is more like a subplot and the characters and the setting are the main thing. The mystery moves very slowly except near the beginning and the end, and the clues are far apart from each other. It’s not a problem for me, because I like the Peabodies anyway, but those looking for more solid mystery might be disappointed.

In the book Amelia is translating an Ancient Egyptian story which she calls the Hippopotamus Pool. Except that she’s using the pre-modern type of “translation” which was used especially on non-Christian texts where the “translator” takes characters, setting, plot, or theme and makes up their own story. Here, Amelia is looking for a suitable ending to her “translation”. It was almost surreal when that sort of rewriting is called translating. (I’m a translator, but of the modern kind who isn’t allowed to make changes.)

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