Monday, September 9, 2013

Mystery Monday (Book Review: Crocodile on the Sandbank)


Crocodile on the Sandbank, by Elizabeth Peters.
Audiobook, read by Susan O'Malley
Text copyright 1975; audiobook by Blackstone Audio, 2007
Book 1 of the Amelia Peabody mysteries.
Source: library (Overdrive)

Victorian spinster Amelia Peabody is en route to explore Egypt when she picks up a new companion, a young Englishwoman starving on the streets of Rome.  The two proceed to Egypt, where they stop at an archeological dig and stay first to help an ailing member of the team--and then to solve a mystery.

This is the first of the Amelia Peabody mysteries and serves as an excellent introduction to an enjoyable (though very outspoken and at times a bit cranky) amateur sleuth.  Told in the first person, the story moves pretty quickly, and there is plenty of humor and virtually no gore.  The mystery is not particularly mysterious--I had a pretty good idea from very early on who was behind the troubles at the dig--but it's really all about the characters, and they are worth getting to know.

The 19th-century setting and narrator has forced the author to deal with Colonial British racism, which I felt she handled pretty well.  Amelia isn't a 21st-Century woman with politically correct ideas, but she is a rather advanced Victorian, whose rebellion against the traditional roles (and dress) inflicted on women has perhaps given her a little more open mind to the possible qualities of  those who are not British.  The history and archeology are handled well, by which I mean that they are both accurate and well-blended into the story.

I listened to the Blackstone Audio version, and felt that the performance was top notch.  Susan O'Malley gave Amelia Peabody a voice in my head which will almost certainly remain as I read other books in the series.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes cozy mysteries (i.e. largely non-violent mysteries with more focus on character than mystery), as well as those who enjoy historical fiction, always with a twist of humor.  If forced to give a star rating, I'd probably do about 3.5, as the mystery is a little too easy.  The book is no work of great literature, but it's a fun read, and some days that's all I need.


Full Disclosure: I checked Crocodile on the Sandbank out of the digital library and received nothing whatsoever from the author, publisher, or narrator in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own and no one else's.


  1. My favorite kind of mysteries-- thanks for the recommendation.

  2. My pleasure! I have seen her books at the library for years and just never checked one out until now.

  3. I haven't read a good mystery in a long time. This one sounds great. Plus, you've got me interested in hunting down the audio version. Thanks for the review. And Thank you for the follow, I'm happy to follow back Ninja Librarian! (:

    1. I love my audio books. I have a teeny tiny MP3 and listen while running or doing housework (two activities that require all the distractions I can get). Thanks for joining us!

  4. The great thing about following a Ninja Linrarian is that I get to hear about all sorts of books I never would have discovered on my own. Sounds fun, and I love the cover!

    1. Thanks! It's amazing what different collections you find in libraries as far distant as ours! I need to get back to some of the regional writers I've enjoyed!

  5. I finished reading Crocodile yesterday and agree with your review. It was a fun, light-weight cozy through which I learned a bit about archeology, Egypt, and women's plight in that era. Thanks!


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