My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you pick and choose only a selection of the Amelia Peabody books to read, one of your choices must indisputably be Lion in the Valley, book 4 of the series. This introduces one of the most critical recurring characters to show up all throughout the books: as Amelia herself likes to call him, that genius of crime, the Master Criminal, Sethos.
Thanks to events of the previous book, The Mummy Case, Emerson has secured permission to dig at the Black Pyramid in Dahshur. But as is always the case with the Emersons, their efforts are soon enough interrupted. Someone attempts to kidnap Ramses–and the man who helps rescue him proves to be an opium-addicted Englishman. Moreover, there’s a young woman on the run from an accusation of murder, and anyone who’s read any other book of the series should be able to quickly guess that there’s backstory with these two side characters, too.
But really, the main interest of this installment is Sethos, particularly when his romantic interest in Amelia comes to light. Look for the big ending, when the Master Criminal gets his shot at his main goal. Which is to say, Amelia herself. This’ll set up a lot of lovely interaction for later installments, as well as occasional fun tension between Amelia and Emerson. Also, Sethos himself is a fabulous anti-hero, sure to appeal to any fan of rakish thieves and gentleman rogues. Four stars.