Historical mystery novels written by American author and Egyptologist Barbara Mertz under the pen name Elizabeth Peters (the author of the Vicky Bliss series who is also known as Barbara Michaels when she wrote Gothic novels), this series tells the adventures of Egyptologist Amelia Peabody Emerson.
At the beginning at least, because Amelia quickly gets married and brings all her family-her distinguished husband Radcliffe Emerson, their son Ramses and, later, their ward Nefret-into her adventures, mostly in Egypt with mummies, thieves, murderers, and all sorts of criminals.
How to read the Amelia Peabody Series in Order?
Every entry in the Amelia Peabody book series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- Crocodile on the Sandbank – On her way to Cairo, Amelia Peabody rescues young Evelyn Barton-Forbes, who has been abandoned by her scoundrel lover. Together the two women sail up the Nile to an archeological site run by the Emerson brothers-the irascible but dashing Radcliffe and the amiable Walter. Soon their little party is increased by one-one mummy that is, and a singularly lively example of the species.
- The Curse of the Pharaohs – It’s 1892, and Amelia and her now-husband Radcliffe Emerson have settled down. They’re raising their young son Ramses and everything seems normal–until they are approached by a damsel in distress. Lady Baskerville’s husband, Sir Henry, has died after uncovering what may have been a royal tomb in Luxor. Despite rumors of a curse haunting all those involved with the dig, Amelia and Radcliffe proceed to Egypt and realize that Sir Henry did not die a natural death.
- The Mummy Case – Radcliffe Emerson, the irascible husband of fellow archaeologist Amelia Peabody, has earned the nickname “Father of Curses”-and in Mazghunah he demonstrates why. Denied permission to dig at the pyramids of Dahshoor, he and Amelia are resigned to excavating mounds of rubble in the middle of nowhere. But before long Amelia, Emerson, and their precocious son, Ramses, find themselves entangled in The Mummy Case.
- Lion in the Valley – The 1895-96 season promises to be an exceptional one for Amelia Peabody, Radcliffe Emerson, and their eight-year-old son, Ramses. The long-denied permission to dig at the pyramids of Dahshoor has finally been granted, and the much-coveted burial chamber of the Black Pyramid is now theirs for the exploring. But there is a great evil in the wind that roils the hot sands sweeping through the bustling streets and marketplaces of Cairo. The brazen moonlight abduction of Ramses-and an expedition subsequently cursed by misfortune and death-have alerted Amelia to the likely presence of her arch-nemesis the Master Criminal.
- The Deeds of the Disturber – Can fear kill? There are those who believe so-but Amelia Peabody is skeptical. And she doubts that it was a Nineteenth-Dynasty mummy’s curse that caused the death of a night watchman in the British Museum. The corpse was found sprawled in the mummy’s shadow, a look of terror frozen on the guard’s face. What-or who-killed the unfortunate man is a mystery that seems too intriguingly delicious for Amelia to pass up.
- The Last Camel Died at Noon – It’s true: the last camel is gone, leaving Amelia, Emerson, and Ramses to bake under the desert sun in the winter of 1897. Armed with a mysterious note and map, they have been commissioned to locate a lost English aristocrat and his wife, who disappeared over a decade ago. The family marches into the desert where survival depends on solving a mystery as old as Ancient Egypt, and where they meet a young girl, Nefret, who will join their family and change their lives forever.
- The Snake, the Crocodile and the Dog – With Nefret, now a ward of Amelia Peabody and Emerson, and Ramses at home pursuing their studies, the couple returns to Amarna in 1898 for a dig that promises to be just like old times. The trip turns out to be more like old times than they plan, however, when they become the targets of a Master Criminal’s evil plot. Emerson is kidnapped, and Amelia rescues him to discover that he has lost his memory.
- The Hippopotamus Pool – When a masked stranger offers to reveal an Egyptian queen’s lost tomb to Amelia Peabody and Emerson in 1900, they are intrigued, to say the least. But the guide mysteriously disappears, leaving them to sail to Thebes to follow his trail. The fact that Ramses and Nefret are along on the journey both helps and hampers efforts to solve this mystery. Soon all four are risking their lives as they foil kidnappers, grave robbers, and ancient curses.
- Seeing a Large Cat – It’s 1903 in Cairo, and Amelia dreams of a large Egyptian cat, a sign of good luck. But the luck turns when she and Emerson, who are set to dig in the Valley of the Kings, receive an ominous warning: “Stay away from tomb Twenty-A!” More trouble brews as Ramses and Nefret, unknown to their parents, begin to sneak about to help an American who believes she’s being stalked. When tomb Twenty-A reveals a mummy wearing silk unmentionables, Amelia is trapped in a labyrinth of murder, passion, and deceit.
- The Ape Who Guards the Balance – Prospects for the 1907 archaeological season in Egypt are looking somewhat dull to Amelia Peabody. As a result of Emerson’s less-than-diplomatic behavior, they have been demoted to examining only the most boring tombs in the Valley of the Kings – mere leftovers, really. And then, in a seedy section of Cairo, the younger members of the Peabody Emerson clan purchase a mint-condition papyrus of the famed Book of the Dead. But for as long as there have been graves, there have also been grave robbers – and so begins a new adventure into antiquity.
- The Falcon at the Portal – It is 1911. Amelia Peabody and her family have arrived in Egypt for the archeological season — after the marriage of young Ramses’ best friend David to Amelia’s niece Lia. But trouble finds them immediately when David is accused of selling ancient artifacts. While Amelia and company try to clear his name and expose the real culprit, the body of an American is found at the bottom of their excavation shaft.
- He Shall Thunder in the Sky – It is 1914 and Amelia Peabody and her husband Emerson are back in Egypt for another season of archaeological excavation. But this year a new menace hangs over the dig: rumblings of war abound in Europe while over in the East, Turkish and German forces are massing for an attack on the Suez Canal. There are problems closer to home too: their son Rameses, passionately opposed to the war, is collecting white feathers and challenges from the British community of Cairo.
- Lord of the Silent – In the autumn of 1915. Cairo is transformed into an army camp teeming with enemy agents and shockingly bold tomb robbers are brazenly desecrating the ancient sites. Amelia Peabody seeks refuge at a remote dig in Luxor, but this provides no guarantee of safety when she discovers a fresh corpse in an ancient tomb. But are the Emersons in even darker danger with the intervention of one of Amelia’s oldest and most dangerous adversaries? Tantalizing clues suggest this might be so.
- The Golden One – A new year, 1917, is dawning, and the Great War that ravages the world shows no sign of abating. In these perilous times, archaeologist Amelia Peabody and her extended family must confront shocking dangers. But it is son Ramses who faces the direst threat, answering a call that will carry him to the fabled seaport of Gaza on a mission as personal as it is perilous.
- Children of the Storm – The year is 1919. Amelia Peabody and her husband, Emerson, finally feel they have a moment to rest. Just as the dust from the war begins to settle, a new wind kicks up, and their lives take a turn for the worse. Soon after the discovery of a well-preserved tomb, some of the treasure is stolen. The murdered body of the thief, a trusted employee of Amelia and Emerson, is later found in the desert. Then Ramses is kidnapped by a woman dressed as the goddess Hathor…
- Guardian of the Horizon – A chronicle from one of the “missing years” — 1907 : Banned from the Valley of the Kings, Amelia Peabody and her husband have returned to England with their 19-year-old son Ramses and their foster daughter, Nefret. Ramses is secretly in love with Nefret and plans to flee to Germany to avoid temptation. Then a mysterious visitor changes the plan for the whole family.
- The Serpent on the Crown – Autumn 1921. The Peabody-Emerson clan is enjoying a fruitful period of excavation in Egypt. But when they hear the alarming tale of a man’s mysterious death their digging turns to detecting. His widow is convinced her husband was the victim of a curse and implores the Emersons to find and return the small ‘deadly’ statue that killed him to the tomb from which it was stolen — before it claims another life.
- Tomb of the Golden Bird – 1922 – convinced that the tomb of the little-known King Tutankhamon lies somewhere in the Valley of the Kings, Emerson has tried to persuade his rivals Lord Carnavon and Howard Carter to hand over their digging rights in the valley to him – but they resist. So back in Luxor an incident at the hotel the clan is staying in turns their gifts for digging in another direction. Emerson and Ramses are lured into a trap by a group who demand answers to the mysterious question, ‘Where is he?’.
- A River in the Sky – 1910. Having brought Egypt firmly under her thumb, Amelia Peabody turns her attention to a harder challenge: Palestine, a province of the crumbling, corrupt Ottoman Empire and the Holy Land of three religions. Hearing that Morley, an English adventurer, has raised money to mount an expedition to search for the vanished treasures of the Temple in Jerusalem, Emerson and Amelia are persuaded to go after him in order to prevent a catastrophically inept excavation.
- The Painted Queen (completed by Joan Hess) – Egypt, 1912. Arriving in Cairo for another thrilling excavation season, Amelia Peabody is relaxing in her elegant hotel suite in Cairo, when a man with a knife protruding from his back staggers into the bath chamber and utters a single word-“Murder”-before collapsing on the tiled floor, dead. Among the few possessions he carried was a sheet of paper with Amelia’s name and room number, and a curious piece of pasteboard the size of a calling card bearing one word: “Judas.” Most peculiarly, the stranger was wearing a gold-rimmed monocle in his left eye.
Amelia Peabody Books in Chronological Order:
- Crocodile on the Sandbank
- The Curse of the Pharaohs
- The Mummy Case
- Lion in the Valley
- The Deeds of the Disturber
- The Last Camel Died at Noon
- The Snake, the Crocodile and the Dog
- The Hippopotamus Pool
- Seeing a Large Cat
- The Ape Who Guards the Balance
- Guardian of the Horizon
- A River in the Sky
- The Falcon at the Portal
- The Painted Queen
- He Shall Thunder in the Sky
- Lord of the Silent
- The Golden One
- Children of the Storm
- The Serpent on the Crown
- Tomb of the Golden Bird
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