My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In a series that’s famous for being primarily set in Egypt, The Deeds of the Disturber, Book 5 of the Amelia Peabodies, is quite distinctive in that it’s set in England during the off-season, when the Emerson family is between digs. It also has the good fortune of being my very favorite book involving Ramses as a child. Sure, that boy’s formidable even in Books 3 and 4, but here, put up against the odious Percy and Violet, the children of Amelia’s brother James, Ramses gets his first real stretch of character development.
You’d think that the Emersons being at home means they’d get a break from their detectival adventures, but you’d be wrong. There’s a new exhibit with a mummy at the British Museum, and of course there are Mysterious Persons showing up in ancient Egyptian garb causing disturbances at the exhibit. Worse yet, people have started to die at the museum, and rumors are beginning to fly about a curse. Cue the Emersons, even though Emerson himself is frantically trying to finish a manuscript. And even though Amelia has to juggle managing not only her husband and son, but also her niece and nephew, who have been unceremoniously thrust upon her by her brother. The redoubtable Amelia is hopeful that exposure to other children, “normal” children, might be good for Ramses–but it should surprise no reader of the series that things go very, very badly. Fights break out, accusations are hurled, and as is so often the case with young Master Ramses, things wind up on fire.
The Young Lovers Du Jour are a refreshing change of pace–none other than Kevin O’Connell, the Emersons’ simultaneously most liked and most hated reporter, and his rival, Miss Minton, who’ll stop at nothing to scoop him on the story of the curse at the museum. And it’s fun to see characters here that we don’t normally get to see in an Amelia Peabody novel, such as the Emersons’ England-based servants, all of whom take an inordinate amount of interest in the family affairs (Gargery, the butler, is Awesome). Emerson gets his obligatory Scenes of Being Heroically Wounded, not once but twice even, and there is even a mysterious woman from his past cropping up and giving Amelia cause for Grave Concern. Coming as we are off of Book 4, this is fun tension, given that the tables are now turned and Amelia has to have her own battles with doubt.
But really, read this for the excellent Ramses mileage! And keep an eye on that kid Percy, because we will be seeing him again! Five stars.