Named 1998 Grand Master by Mystery Writers of America, Elizabeth Peters is also a doctor of Egyptology whose mysteries have submerged readers in the vivid turn-of-the-century world of Amelia Peabody. In The Ape Who Guards the Balance Peters captures the immediacy of uncovering a new Egyptian tomb within the context of a tightly plotted murder investigation involving the entire Emerson Peabody clan. The characters, including Amelia's husband, Radcliffe Emerson, and her gifted son, Ramses, are meticulously drawn. As in previous novels the dialogue is reminiscent of The Thin Man. When a man calls out to passing suffragettes, "You ought to be 'ome washin' your 'usband's trousers!" Ramses shoots back, "I assure you, sir, the lady's trousers are not in such sore need of laundering as your own." Peters also toys with differing narrative perspectives, and Ramses emerges as a possible successor to his mother's legacy of crime solving.
The Ape Who Guards the Balance begins in 1907 in England where Amelia is attending a suffragettes' rally outside the home of Mr. Geoffrey Romer of the House of Commons. It seems Romer is one of the few remaining private collectors of Egyptian antiquities, and a series of bizarre events at the protest soon embroil Amelia in grave personal danger. Suspecting that the Master Criminal, Sethos, is behind their problems, the Emerson Peabodys hasten to Egypt to continue their studies in the Valley of Kings where they soon acquire a papyrus of the Book of the Dead. As with past seasons, however, their archaeological expedition is interrupted. The murdered body of a woman is found in the Nile. Ramses, Radcliffe, and Amelia all have their theories as to the origin of the crime, but their own lives might soon be at stake if the cult of Thoth and their ancient book is, indeed, involved.
Other Peabody mysteries include Seeing a Large Cat, The Hippopotamus Pool, The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog, The Deeds of the Disturber, Lion in the Valley, The Curse of the Pharaohs, and Crocodile on the Sandbank. --Patrick O'Kelley