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Crocodile on the Sandbank (1975)

by Elizabeth Peters

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,3802092,321 (3.92)311
Amelia Peabody, that indomitable product of the Victorian age, embarks on her first Egyptian adventure armed with unshakable self-confidence, a journal to record her thoughts, and, of course, a sturdy umbrella. Along the way, she meets up with Evelyn Barton-Forbes, the Emerson brothers, and a lively mummy. How Amelia arranges all to her satisfaction is just one of the pleasures of this delightfully witty mystery.… (more)
  1. 101
    Soulless by Gail Carriger (nessreader, lquilter)
    nessreader: The heroine of Soulless has a similar outlook to early Amelia Peabody (but I should warn that the Peabody series is cosy crime/romance, with no supernatural element while Soulless is gleeful fantasy) Both have strong willed on-the-shelf spinsters who are active protagonists in their story.… (more)
    lquilter: Without knowing, I'd imagine that Gail Carriger had read Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series (beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank) before writing Blameless (et seq). Similar era, similarly cranky and forthright spinster protagonist, similar sort of love affair, similar witty dialog and observations. The Amelia Peabody books are, of course, "straight" historical mystery, without the steampunk elements of Carriger's series, but I imagine that Carriger fans who read out-of-genre also will enjoy the Peters' series. Similarly, Peters fans who like SF, steampunk, or vampires/werewolves, might enjoy the Carriger series.… (more)
  2. 30
    Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury (_Zoe_)
    _Zoe_: Wrapped is YA and considerably fluffier, but it shares the common element of an independent-minded nineteenth-century woman encountering an Egyptological mystery.
  3. 30
    The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman (foggidawn)
  4. 20
    Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Mr Impossible is a Regency romance novel set in Egypt. The strong intelligent heroine is something of an expert in Egyptian antiquities and is determined to help her brother get out of trouble. The general premise is a lot like the movie The Mummy. Those who enjoyed the romantic angle and the Egyptian setting in Crocodile on the Sandbank may find a lot to like in Chase's Mr Impossible.… (more)
  5. 20
    Letters from Egypt: A journey on the Nile, 1849-1850 by Florence Nightingale (Cynara)
    Cynara: Florence went down the Nile in a dahabiyya thirty-two years before the great fictional Victorian lady Amelia Peabody, but there's still much overlap!
  6. 31
    Changeless by Gail Carriger (majkia)
    majkia: Alexia Terabotti Maccon and Amelia Peabody seriously have a lot in common. And not just parasols. Also bear shaped husbands, attitude, and intrepidity (if that's a word)
  7. 00
    Valley of the Kings by Cecelia Holland (themulhern)
    themulhern: The books are very different in tone. The shared theme is archaeology and Akhenaten.
  8. 00
    Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt by Barbara Mertz (themulhern)
    themulhern: The Egyptological fiction by this author really complements her Egyptological non-fiction and vice-versa. I read the non-fiction because I had been reading the fiction, and I'm happy to say that the non-fiction does deepen one's understanding of the fiction. But it is also possible that after reading the non-fiction one might dip into the fiction and find that one was enjoying the fiction much more because of one's existing knowledge.… (more)
  9. 00
    The Gilded Shroud by Elizabeth Bailey (4leschats)
  10. 00
    Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark by Donna Lea Simpson (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Both novels feature a prickly, very intelligent 'spinster' unravelling a seemingly paranormal mystery while charming a large and irascible love interest. There were snippets of dialogue in Lady Anne that definitely reminded me of the Amelia Peabody novels. Crocodile on the Sandbank - archaeological mystery set in Egypt. Lady Anne - Gothic romance… (more)
  11. 11
    Blameless by Gail Carriger (lquilter)
    lquilter: Without knowing, I'd imagine that Gail Carriger had read Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series (beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank) before writing Blameless (et seq). Similar era, similarly cranky and forthright spinster protagonist, similar sort of love affair, similar witty dialog and observations. The Amelia Peabody books are, of course, "straight" historical mystery, without the steampunk elements of Carriger's series, but I imagine that Carriger fans who read out-of-genre also will enjoy the Peters' series. Similarly, Peters fans who like SF, steampunk, or vampires/werewolves, might enjoy the Carriger series.… (more)
  12. 00
    And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Unconventional heroines rebel against Victorian mores to pursue their intellectual interests. The Elizabeth Peters novels are sillier (including prodding people with parasols) and is set against a backdrop of Egyptian archaeology. The Tasha Alexander mysteries are less openly subversive of Victorian morals, and And Only to Deceive draws on Homer's Iliad.… (more)
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» See also 311 mentions

English (204)  German (2)  French (1)  Piratical (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (209)
Showing 1-5 of 204 (next | show all)
Well this was a bit of fun. The character of Amelia Peabody was quite entertaining and the plot felt like an adult version of a Scooby-Doo cartoon. As cute as it was, I don't think I'll go any further with this series. One was enough. ( )
  Iudita | Dec 22, 2022 |
It has been many years since I've read a mystery story, and I wasn't quite sure if I would still like them as much as I had in my youth. Either I do, or I simply chose the right book with which to renew that genre interest, because I found Crocodile on the Sandbank to be an enjoyable read. It reminded me of a cross between Indiana Jones and a younger version of Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher (I loved Murder, She Wrote when I was a kid), or perhaps a more mature version of the Nancy Drew books that I was crazy about in my tweens/teens, only in a more exotic location. Crocodile on the Sandbank, and the entire Amelia Peabody series, fall into the cozy mystery genre as they are very gentle mysteries that aren't particularly frightening and don't have any objectionable elements. Even more mature content like Evelyn's affair is merely alluded to and never spelled out in so many words. This made for some fun, old-fashioned sleuthing that is, in my opinion, appropriate for mystery aficionados of all ages, although the advanced vocabulary and authenticity of the historical voice would probably be more suited for teen and adult readers. Elizabeth Peters began writing the Amelia Peabody series in the 1970s, and had I heard of it back then, I may have been reading them as a teen.

Amelia was a fun character to read about. She is a firmly on-the-shelf spinster who has no intentions of marrying and an independent woman of means, so she decides to indulge her passion for history and her dream of traveling by going on a trip to Egypt. Amelia is an unflappable, no-nonsense woman with a plucky, adventurous spirit and a very straight-forward way of dealing with life. This forthright nature was very much in evidence in the first question that she asked Evelyn after her friend confessed to having had an affair. Somehow, it didn't really surprise me, but it did make me laugh nonetheless. Amelia is also a feminist who has little use for the traditional Victorian conventions, and sometimes wishes she had been born a man, so that she would be more respected. Even though Amelia is very much a thinker and a scholar, it is obvious that she has a very kind heart and a willingness to help others. She is quite skilled in medical matters and assists many people along the way who are sick or injured which always seems to help put her in their good graces. She is also the consummate matchmaker when she realizes that Evelyn has fallen in love. I found it interesting and amusing that Amelia immediately recognized Evelyn's love for Walter, but when she started falling for Emerson, she didn't initially discern it as the same emotion in herself. All in all, I really admired Amelia, and a part of me would love to be her, but in reality, I'm probably much closer in personality to Evelyn.

Crocodile on the Sandbank is told in first-person perspective with Amelia, of course, as the narrator. It is written in a slightly different style than other first-person books that I have read, so it took me a little while to get used to it. For me, the reading of the book was rather like sitting down to tea with Amelia while listening as she related her story. It had a rather quaint, intimate feel to it. The book takes a “just-the-facts” approach and is a little light on descriptive details of the environment. In fact, early in the story, Amelia comments that she will not indulge in such descriptions so as not to bore the reader, and if the reader wants more detail, they should go read a travelogue. Normally, this would be a downside for me, because I tend to enjoy lush, vivid depictions of the setting, but for the most part, enough information was given to make me feel like I was in the hot sands of the Egyptian desert with Amelia. There are also not a lot of deep insights into the secondary characters. The reader really only gets to know them through Amelia's eyes. Even though I usually prefer to know the other characters' thoughts and feelings, I once again, for the most part, did not view this as a weakness as I normally would. I think this was owing in large part to the genre. Since the story is primarily about the mystery of a mummy stalker who appears to be trying to scare them away from their archaeological dig site, rather than the relationships, I didn't necessarily feel a burning need to get inside the other characters' heads like I would if it were a romance.

As things were, I got to know the other characters well enough. I liked Amelia's friend, Evelyn. She is a sweet, and perhaps slightly naïve, young woman who allowed herself to be seduced by a scoundrel which ruined her relationship with her grandfather and left her destitute. Amelia rescues her off the street and hires her as a companion for her trip. On the outside, Evelyn seems very delicate, but on the inside she is made of much sterner stuff than one might think at first glance, and in spite of her indiscretion, she has a certain strength of character as well. I adored Evelyn's love interest, Walter, the more charming and amiable of the two Emerson brothers, a team of archaeologists who are working to unearth the history and treasures of Egypt. If he were one of my romance heroes, he'd be the sweet beta who gets all moony-eyed over his lady love, but can't quite bring himself to declare his feelings. Yet, when he finally does (at Amelia's prodding), it was in the most romantic way possible, giving me a major, “Awwwww!” moment. Then there is Emerson. Actually his name is Radcliffe, but Amelia never calls him by his first name. It's OK though, because he always call her Peabody instead of Amelia too. If Walter is the romantic beta, Emerson is the alpha. He's rude and abrasive, rarely having anything nice to say about anyone, and he gets under Amelia's skin in more ways than one right from the moment they meet. Although Emerson certainly tries his best, Amelia never allows him to run rough-shod over her, instead giving back as good as she gets whenever he let the insults fly which made for some fun bantering. Even though he could be a real bear sometimes, I liked that Emerson's heart was in the right place when it came to the preservation and proper study of the antiquities that were being treated with flippancy even by the government agency that was supposed to be protecting them. Other than the antiquities though, Emerson could seem pretty cold and indifferent at times, so it took me a while to really warm up to him. When he finally started to reveal his feelings, it was worth the wait.

Aside from the colorful characters, Crocodile on the Sandbank had a fun plot. In fact, I waffled a bit on my star rating, and the only thing that really prevented it from earning keeper status from me was that the pacing is a little too slow in places. Especially during the first half of the book, there are several long passages of narration where there isn't much excitement or action. There are also a couple of passages where a secondary character goes off into what is essentially a soliloquy of narration. Preferring a more liberal mixture of narrative and dialog, I found these passages to be a bit too sluggish for my taste, leaving my mind occasionally wandering. Once the mystery portion of the story really got going, I thoroughly enjoyed the action, adventure and intrigue, as well as trying to figure out the answer to the puzzle. I did correctly discern the culprit and their motive (although not all the details of “how”) before it was revealed, but it didn't detract from the fun of getting there, as I ended up second guessing myself more than once. Overall, the narrative built very nicely to an exciting conclusion. Anyone who enjoys a good mystery/adventure yarn with a plucky heroine, an exotic setting and a dash of romance, should like this book. Crocodile on the Sandbank is the first of the Amelia Peabody series, and my first read by Elizabeth Peters. I found it to be a nice departure from my usual romance fare that has left me looking forward to trying the next book in the series when I'm, once again, in the mood for something different. There are currently 18 books in the Amelia Peabody series. A complete list of all the books and their recommended reading order can be found on the official Amelia Peabody website. ( )
  mom2lnb | Dec 15, 2022 |
I enjoyed this reread but am not sure about continuing the series. I plowed through the first seven of these over seventeen years ago, but this read differently to me now that I have so many romance reads under my belt. I knew the bad guy but wasn’t sure of everything until the reveal which was fun. I guess I’m coming back to wondering why Amelia even fell for Emerson in the first place; he barely redeems himself from his dickishness, but it’s probably because these heroes were pretty standard for a while. ( )
  spinsterrevival | Nov 21, 2022 |
Here's what I wrote in 2008 about this read: "Required some online review to recall, but . . . A vacation type mystery novel, featuring who is apparently Peter's multi-novel heroine (Amelia Peabody)" ( )
  MGADMJK | Sep 22, 2022 |
Unabridged audio.

A fun mystery-adventure. The main character is a smart, independent woman who manages to not be obnoxious in spite of her bossiness. She swears off men, but is not a man-hater — definitely a refreshing change, there. The romantic lead is a gruff, sometimes rude, scientist who appreciates an intelligent woman who doesn’t collapse with the vapors at a hint of adversity.

The mystery involves a mummy returned to haunt the expedition as they excavate an archaeological site. The ending is a bit predictable, but the storytelling makes it easy to overlook this aspect and get caught up in the tale.

Definitely will be checking out the rest of the series. ( )
  AMKitty | Jul 11, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 204 (next | show all)
added by AoifeT | editDear Author, Janet (Jul 12, 2010)
 

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Petersprimary authorall editionscalculated
Auer, BarbaraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Pierrefeu, LouisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dufner, KarinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
青柳, 伸子Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Groot, Cobi deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hämäläinen, MerviTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heller, DagmarNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jendricke, BernhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kapuran, PetarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kubrichtová, GiselaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Longo, IgorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Malley, SusanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosenblat, BarbaraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tuncer, NazanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verri, BeatriceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Алюков, ИгорьTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The love of my beloved is on yonder side. A width of water is between us, and a crocodile waiteth on the sandbank. - Ancient Egyptian love poem
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To my son
Peter
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When I first set eyes on Evelyn Barton-Forbes she was walking the streets of Rome -
Quotations
"Stop," he ordered, in a low but compelling voice. "Do no take another step, or I fire! D--- it," he added vexedly, "does the monstrosity understand English? How absurd this is!" "It understands the gesture, at least," I called, thrusting head and shoulders through the window. "Lucas, for pity's sake, seize it! Don't stand there deriding its linguistic inadequacies!"
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Amelia Peabody, that indomitable product of the Victorian age, embarks on her first Egyptian adventure armed with unshakable self-confidence, a journal to record her thoughts, and, of course, a sturdy umbrella. Along the way, she meets up with Evelyn Barton-Forbes, the Emerson brothers, and a lively mummy. How Amelia arranges all to her satisfaction is just one of the pleasures of this delightfully witty mystery.

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