When Alice (aka Reading Rambo) came out to NYC we met up for burgers, as is the thing we (apparently) do and she said "Hey, I read this book, and it's pretty neat and also a very fast read so you should read this and enjoy." And I looked at this book from Mysterious Press (it's using whatever font you're currently picturing for their logo) and thought this doesn't look like my normal thing but I am all for reading not-my-normal-thing (at least not all the time) and so I accepted and eventually even read it. Everything Alice said about it was right.
For those of you that don't know already, this is the first book in Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series. Amelia is every stereotype I know about a stuffy English woman, which I mean in the best possible way. She is no-nonsense and has zero problem telling people exactly what they should do, a woman who figures he's far too plain for love or marriage and is far happier traveling around. She is incredibly self-assured and has no problem smacking people around a bit with her umbrella if someone is getting out of line. So I guess she's the stereotypes that are more along the lines of Marian and you know how much I love Marian.
I fancied I could amputate a limb - or at least a toe or finger - rather neatly if called upon to do so.She's a gem.
So anyway, her dad dies and leaves her lots of money so she decides to travel the world and starts off in Rome. While there she sees this tiny waif of a girl faint away and everyone is freaking out but Amelia, takes chart of the situation (I'm pretty sure a couple people get swiped with her umbrella while she demands their coats) and she helps the girl. Turns out she is a ruined woman, because she ran away with man who later abandoned her when he found out her family cut her out of their will. Amelia thinks the whole ruined woman thing is dumb so she invites her to come along with her to Cairo as a travel companion.
While traveling up (down?) the Nile, they come to an archeological dig lead by the Emerson brothers, one of whom is pretty much Walter from The Woman in White (i.e., nice and boring; also his name is Walter) while the other is a lovable jerk. But mostly the jerk part. They're working on excavating a pyramid and it turns out Amelia loooooooooooooves this stuff. Who knew pyramids would so be her jam?
While Evelyn (ruined waif) and Walter are falling in love (obviously) and Amelia and Radcliff (jerk) are fighting a Scooby-Doo level mummy starts haunting the site, scaring off the workers, causing accidents, and they believe he's coming after Evelyn. BUT WHY? And what about her past? And is it really an ancient mummy? While the mummy provides the mystery to be solved it's really secondary to the characters.
The book is great because it is as much a parody of the genre as it is a loving tribute. Just as Alice said, it's a quick read and super fun. Anytime I want a light quick read, I'm going to look for more of these Amelia Peabody books. Plus Barbara Mertz (aka Elizabeth Peters) had a PhD in Egyptology, so she actually knows her shit in that regard. I'm not saying pick up these books to learn about ancient Egypt, but fun fact.
Title quote from page 197
Peters, Elizabeth. Crocodile on the Sandbank. Mysterious Press, 1975.