Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Ape Who Guards the Balance

A Little Background: I only recently discovered that Elizabeth Peters also writes as Barbara Michaels whose books I have read in the past and enjoyed. As Elizabeth Peters I have seen her books but for some reason, and I am remiss to say, never picked them up. I will have a grand time now discovering the Amelia Peabody series.

Book Description: The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters

This adventure, the tenth in the series, starts with Amelia becoming involved with the suffragette movement. Amelia, not one to hold back, is an advocate of the equality of women but there is something vaguely wrong with the protest she has joined in front of No. 10 Downing Street. Amelia soon receives a jolt as she recognizes a nefarious someone from her past in the crowd. Is this sighting a portent of things to come?

With her beloved husband (and esteemed archeologist) Emerson by her side, Amelia and family embark on their journey to Egypt in what is hoped to be a successful archeological season. Husband and wife are accompanied by their children, Ramses, Nefret and David who each have interesting background stories of their own.

Unfortunately, trouble seems to have found the Emerson family beginning with a mutilated body found in the Nile as they cruise towards their compound. This is only the first of many unsettling incidents. While the clan struggles to solve the mystery, the story deepens and a few of the characters will find themselves mere inches from death.

By the way, the ape in the title refers to Thoth, one of the more important deities of the Egyptian pantheon. He was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon as these animals were sacred to him. Thoth was the divine scribe who waited for the heart of the dead to be weighed on a scale so that he may record their fate.

My Take: Reading this book was like watching a first rate episode of Mystery or Masterpiece Theatre on PBS where I long ago became accustomed to viewing some fine acting, grand period costuming and of course a great story. There is a good deal to like about this book. It’s at once suspenseful, full of intrigue, contains a good deal of humor and there is romance.

Although I started midway through the series, it was still very easy to follow along and in fact merely serves to whet your appetite to start at the beginning and follow through to the latest edition. Yes, I really do highly recommend this book. Can't you see me smiling?

About the Author:

Barbara G. Mertz (aka Elizabeth Peters and no relation to Ethel!) was born and raised in Illinois in 1927 and received her Ph.D from the University of Chicago in Egyptology at the age of 23.

She has written a plethora of books but most would fall under the category of mystery and suspense novels. She has been a published writer since 1964.


  1. Bonnie, I have to admit that I've known about Elizabeth Peters for a long time. She puts everything I like into her books. I've not read the first one because I have a "thing" about reading mass market books. I don't like the way they fit in my hand or the paper they are printed on. My first preference is quality paperbacks, then hardbacks. When I did book reviews and book talks, I dug my heels in and only reviewed books in those two forms. I do, however, plan to force myself (during a blizzard?) to read them.

    My college job was at a large V.A. neuropsychiatric hospital that was connected by underground tunnels. I learned to walk fast 'cause I tended to hold my breath when in them! Just heard that the "deep tunnel" that protects Chicago's loop is more than 90% full of water and it can't be drained until the river water goes down. Yikes!

    I missed thunderstorms when we lived in La Jolla!! We had some real doozies in Virginia!!


  2. Great book review. I've been meaning to read her, too and this book sounds great. It's good to know I don't have to start at the beginning but I generally prefer to do that. Especially with a series I know I want to read.

    'From the Kitchen' - Chicago is so flooded, still recovering and storms are still coming fast and furious!

  3. What a wonderful review. I'm a new follower.