Raymond's Reviews > The Falcon at the Portal

The Falcon at the Portal by Elizabeth Peters
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Mar 02, 09

Read in February, 2009

The first problem with the book is that there are too many heroes, all of them members of the Peabody family. The second problem is that the plot hinges on the sale of ancient artifacts from Egyptian burial sites, some of which are forgeries. It is only in Chapter eight (of fourteen) that a murder is committed. Until then, there are a seemingly unending series of red-herring investigations of the artifact sales. The only reason for the Peabody’s investigations is the possible involvement of one of their own and they stumble on the truth rather than deduce it.

The book has a couple of sub-plots, e.g., a romance that ends (at least in this book of a series) badly. Some of the sub-plots seem more germane to the main story than others.

The patriarch of the Peabody family, Emerson seems to do very little work as the Egyptologist he is claimed to be. As an aficionado of ancient to medieval history, I found that disappointing.

The setting is in Egypt during the Edwardian Age. Here and there, we get a sampling of the English culture abroad, but not enough to be considered ‘history.’ There is one character, a relative of the Peabody’s, who writes “an astonishing blend of the two literary forms” swashbuckling romance and the memoirs of travelers and officials of the period. Quotes from these writings head each chapter. This relative is not a gentleman, despite his educated class position. He is thoroughly disdained by the rest of the Peabody family.

Overall, this book was a pleasant bedtime read; one doesn’t regret turning out the light at the end of a chapter, but considering that the author has been named as a Grandmaster of both the Anthony and Mystery Writers of America, I expected more. Perhaps I shall need to read previous entries in the Amelia Peabody series to appreciate her better.

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