The Peabody curse
Let the title serve as a warning. The Curse of the Pharaohs is a fluffy and so much more than cozy murder mystery. Based upon legends of the famous curse of King Tut, Amelia and husband Radcliffe abandon their young son Ramses, and take off for Egypt, at the behest of Lady Baskerville, whose husband has apparently been its latest victim. The names of the characters alone were enough to make me grit my teeth, but there’s worse to come. Narrated by Amelia herself, the commentary and dialogue are regrettably twee. Amelia is evidently incapable of forming a straightforward sentence, couching her every line in an onslaught of oh-so-proper Victorian expression. A fraction of what she says is witty, but the rest is merely tiresome. A good one third of the book is given over to Amelia’s appalling lack of maternal feeling, prompting wonder over why she ever had a baby in the first place. She spends most of her time at home, either making oblique references to her sex life, or trying to circumvent and disrupt the conventions of English society. As for the mystery, there is one buried in all the nonsense, but it’s far less than compelling, and handily solved by the totally competent Amelia Peabody. I’ve chalked this one up as a yawner, and an annoying one at that.