The legions of Amelia Peabody Emerson fans will be overjoyed with this 14th in the series (after 2001's Lord of the Silent, for they're getting two books in one. First, MWA Grandmaster Peters offers another amusing if wordy Egyptian archeology mystery, set in 1917 and replete with grave robbers, a murder, the discovery of a richly furnished tomb and a cast of thousands. Halfway through the book, this plot is annoyingly left dangling when the British recall the Emerson's brilliant son, Ramses, for an espionage assignment in Gaza, where he must determine if a newly powerful figure, Ismail Pasha, is really the Emerson family black sheep, Sethos, master criminal and secret agent. The redoubtable Amelia; her eccentric husband, Radcliffe; Ramses's adventurous wife, Nefret; and their faithful foreman, Selim, follow him in disguise. Captured by Sahin Pasha, head of the Turkish secret service, Ramses later escapes, fulfilling his mission with his family's help. Then it's back to Egypt, where the Emersons and their friends the Vandergelts solve the murder and subdue the villains. Radcliffe even ejects intrusive tourists from fragile archeological sites. Peters's books divide the mystery-reading public. With a Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago, she provides an authentic historical backdrop. However, her long-winded explanations and preposterous plots frustrate many. Those who enjoy romance and find the hubbub of the Emersons and their devoted entourage entertaining will forgive the faults. Agent, Dominick Abel. (One-day laydown Apr. 2)
Forecast:Increased wordiness won't daunt the author's faithful followers, who will lift this Mystery Guild Main Selection onto bestseller lists.