Favorites From… Anna Campbell

Anna Campbell
Peabody for President!
By Anna Campbell

Hi Jen! Thank you for having me as your guest today. I love the idea of asking authors to share recommendations for their favorite books. The hardest part was deciding just which books to choose – there’s such a wealth of fantastic reading out there.

Recently I’ve tempered my diet of wonderful romance novels with mysteries. I love how in a good mystery series, we follow that single character through what is often a very long arc (for something like the Nevada Barr series, there are at currently 17 books!). I also love how in many of these series, there’s a romantic subplot that occasionally pushes its way up to become center of attention. Think C.S. Harris’s brilliant Viscount Devlin series set in the Regency period, starting with WHAT ANGELS FEAR.

Yeah, I know, I’m cheating. I’m fitting some extra recommendations in before I get to my ACTUAL recommendation! No mystery there.

The Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters are absolute corkers. They’re a recent discovery for me, but they’ve been around for yonks. CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK, the first book, was published back in 1975. The latest installment A RIVER IN THE SKY came out in 2010. Talk about longevity! A RIVER IN THE SKY is number 19 and more are promised. Huzzah! Long live Amelia and her many cohorts.

You might worry about the earlier books seeming dated. And they are – right back to late in Queen Victoria’s reign. One of the advantages of writing historical mysteries is that it really doesn’t matter if flares go in and out of style in the current era, the specificity of period is part of the charm.

In CROCODILE, we meet Amelia Peabody, forthright, brave, self-opinionated (although often wrong) spinster. When Amelia unexpectedly inherits a fortune, she fulfills her dreams of travel to Egypt in the golden age of archeology. There she meets irascible, disheveled and extremely sexy Radcliffe Emerson, “the greatest Egyptologist of this or any other age” as we are told at least once in every book (the running jokes are one of the joys of this series). Sparks fly, romance ensues, and in between, there are dead bodies galore. Some of these dead bodies are meant to be that way – mummies feature strongly – but some aren’t. Amelia and Emerson play amateur sleuths in between their digging. “Every year, another dead body” as their overseer Abdullah puts it.

CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK sets the pattern for future books. There’s fun and sparkling wit. There’s romance. There’s danger and intrigue. There’s fascinating information about Egypt, both ancient and (relatively) modern. Amelia and Emerson have one son, the dashing, mysterious and charismatic Ramses who becomes the swashbuckling hero of later books. Do you remember I mentioned extended romance plots? Ramses’s path to true love is littered with drama and heartache and by the time he gets his happy ending in THE FALCON AT THE PORTAL, the reader (and Ramses) have been through the wringer. Great stuff!

Another joy is the huge cast of characters who swing in and out of the stories. Eccentric scholars, master criminals, young lovers, Egyptians, uppity servants, spies, suffragettes, rotters, real people like Howard Carter or Lawrence of Arabia. Not to mention cats who are characters in their own right. You’re never quite sure what you’re going to get in an Amelia Peabody novel apart from rollicking enjoyment, a great story and a plethora of corpses.

The tone is dry and witty with hints of high Victorian. Surprisingly the humor doesn’t jar with the dramatic or tragic elements. There’s Bronte-esque melodrama and Austenish wit and Dickensian universality, yet somehow the books emerge all of a piece. As a writer, I’m in awe every time I read one.

If you haven’t read Amelia Peabody, I highly recommend her. If you have, I’m sure I’m speaking to the converted. If possible, read the books in order. Many of plot strands about the family run from book to book with revelations timed for maximum effect. I’m currently up to number 14, THE GOLDEN ONE, and I’m loving it.

If you’d like to read more about Amelia, her family and her adventures, here’s a link to the official website: http://www.mpmbooks.com/peabody/index.html

So are you a fan of historical mysteries? Do you like a little (or a lot!) romance mixed in with other genres? Have you read any of the Amelia Peabody stories? What’s your favorite? 

Thank you to Anna Campbell for sharing her recommendations today. I asked Anna to be a part of this feature because I absolutely adored her Beauty and the Beast themed Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed.  It follows a woman willing to pay off her sister’s debt in the bed of a scarred recluse.  It was one of my favorite books this year.

Now is your chance to check out one of the Amelia Peabody books. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters. This one is open US/CAN. 

Be sure to check out all of the Favorites From My Favorites posts and giveaways this month, by clicking here.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

*”Favorites from…” photo: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos  

Comments

  1. I just finished Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed, I absolutely loved it. I have not read any of the Amelia Peabody books – but they do sound very interesting. I love to read just about anything..really into paranormal/urban fantasy romance. Love mystery: Patricia Cornwell, Iris Johansen…list goes on and on.

    Thank you for this giveaway
    kcnrhtx (at) charter (dot) net

    • Kimberley, thank you so much for saying you enjoyed Seven Nights (and thanks, Jen, for those lovely words in my intro!). If you like mystery and romance, give these a go. I just love them to death!

    • Hey Kimberley! I love the Patricia Cornwell books. Particularly love the first three books she ever wrote. Then she went thorugh a bit of a period of stuff I wasn’t so keen on. Now she’s back to great form! :>

  2. Hey Anna! I’m so excited that you and I share yet ANOTHER favorite besides Eva Ibbotsen! Grins. I adore the Amelia Peabody mysteries and although I’ve not caught up to you at #14 yet, I get back into them every little bit and burn through a few more. She’s a brilliant writer, isn’t she? SO good!! Great post!

    • Jeanne, I’ve got to a stage where I’m rationing them. Read through the early ones like they were going out of style – which they’re definitely NOT! But now there’s only a handful left. Don’t want to lose my go-to series too quickly! Thanks so much for swinging by. I didn’t know you were another fan but you’re such a woman of taste, I should have guessed! ;-)

  3. Hi, Jen! Hi, Anna!

    Anna, I’ve not heard of the Amelia Peabody books, but I’m glad you mentioned them because Amelia sounds like a lot of fun! I was totally sold when you mentioned cats are among the cast of characters. ;)

    I read a lot of mysteries when I was younger, starting with Trixie Beldon books and Agatha Christie, then I graduated to the grittier stuff.

    • Vanessa, definitely give these a go. They’re fantastic. And I love the way the characters develop (or not – Amelia remains pretty convinced she’s infallible, LOL!). You’ll kick me but I’ve only read one Agatha Christie. I should go back to them. Not sure why I didn’t read more – I liked the one I read, Nemesis, one of the Miss Marples. Love Poirot on TV!

  4. Anna and Jen, what a fun post! I’ve read mysteries since my Nancy Drew days. I loved the early Amelia Peabody books but have lost track now.

    I also enjoy Lord Peter Wimsey, though he was contemporary when written and is only kinda sort historical now.

    Carol K. Carr writes the India Black series about a Victoria era madam who is drawn into helping the government solve problems. Of course, I read the C. S. Harris books, seeing as Sebastian St. Cyr is To. Die. For. Then there’s Jeri Westerton’s Crispin Guest medieval series, though I’ve read only the first two. Kate Sedley’s Roger the Chapman wanders England around the time of the Wars of the Roses–I’m way behind on those, too. Sharon Kay Penman’s Justin de Quincy books, set in the reign of Richard I, are great, but there are only four of them. On those, at least, I’m current! *g*

    • Nancy, great to see you here. What a great list of recommendations. Other people have mentioned the India Black series to me – I’ve got them on my wish list at the Book Depository. Maybe I should push them up the list and actually buy them! LOL! So glad you’re another Sebastian St. Cyr fan. I adore those books. I love Peter Wimsey too – planning on re-reading those at some stage. The romance in those is beautifully done.

  5. Oh my, I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read the Amelia Peabody series, Anna, but they do sound like a series I’d enjoy.

    I thoroughly enjoy Anne Perry’s historical mysteries, both the William Monk series (which got me through my heart surgery recovery) and the Thomas Pitt series. I haven’t been able to get as engaged in the World War I series, but I’m giving them another go.

    • Jo, you know, I think you’d love them! A few people have mentioned Anne Perry to me – I must try them. Always looking for great recommendations!

    • Jo and Anna, I just read that Anne Perry and her best friend killed the BFF’s mother and were convicted of murder when they were teenagers in Christchurch, New Zealand. I had never heard that before!

    • Caren, there’s a wonderful movie called Heavenly Creatures directed by Peter Jackson of LOTR fame about that case. Well worth chasing if you can find it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I have only read the first one so far, but just loved it! Would be fun to have more.

    Sue P.
    suepete12(at)yahoo(dot)com

  7. Anna, I have read ALL the Amelia Peabody mysteries. A dear friend recommended them to me sometime in the mid-90s and I was already behind the curve! I gobbled them up in a hurry, falling in love right along with Peabody & Emerson, Ramses & Nefret, Walter & Evelyn, David & Lia and all the other couples Amelia managed to get together. Along with her incredible powers of ratiocination, Amelia is a great matchmaker!

    It’s hard to pick a favorite, kind of like trying to choose your favorite child. They all have good points and some are a tad annoying (especially when Ramses was a teenager – he needed to be slapped) or overly concerned with political intrigue (the WWI book). I don’t mind, say, some war stuff but the war interefered with the Egyptology! :)

    Every once in a while I have to cruise by the Elizabeth Peters website to make sure there isn’t a new Amelia Peabody book that I’ve missed. I do love Amelia and her crazy gang!

    • Caren, so glad you’re another huge fan! ALL of them? You’re ahead of me! Actually your comment made me think again of what a richness of character there is in these books. So many wonderful people I’ve loved to meet in the pages – well, maybe evil Percy wasn’t a pleasure but he was a great villain. Yeah, I’m hoping WWI ends soon (very humanitarian of me, I know!). I prefer the Egyptology to the more recent historical intrigue but having said that, they’re still great reads and Ramses is being SOOOO heroic!

  8. Anna, I’m so glad you enjoy the Amelia P books too. They’re enormous fun and a perfect way to pass a few delightful hours. When you finish those maybe you could try the Vicky Bliss mysteries by Elizabeth Peters too. They’re set in the modern world for a change but the world of art historians and old mysteries and modern thefts and yes, another romance there too.

    Congratulations on the release of Rogue – it’s a fantastic read and perfect for holiday giving (lovely timing).

    • Thanks so much for the Rogue congratulations, Annie! Ooh, yes, a perfect Christmas present. Who doesn’t want 7 nights in a rogue’s bed? And the book. Ha ha.

      Yes, I think Vicky Bliss may be my next stop on the EP train. Love the idea of the art background.

  9. Hi Anna and Jen, I must read this Amelia Peabody series–the books sound such fun. I have a tendency to read dark thrillers (as well as romance, of course!) Amelia Peabody might be a refreshing change.

    Congratulations on the release of your seventh book, SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED. I have read the first six and loved them all. I must say, out of your six wonderful book titles, I really like this one!

    • Kandy, thanks so much for swinging by. So glad you’re looking forward to Rogue. The postman may actually bring you a nice surprise next week! I love this title too – I was absolutely stoked when Grand Central kept it. They’ve kept my title for book 2 too – A Rake’s Midnight Kiss! Seriously, try the Amelias. I think they’d be up your alley.

  10. I haven’t read any of the Amelia Peabody books (yet) but i do LOVE any type of historical and I also love any kind of mystery. You would think that I would be in search of historical mysteries but I haven’t actually read too many (yet… copying Nancy’s list right might change that soon. lol)

    • Shantea, I copied out Nancy’s list too – more to add to the wish list at the Book Depository! I’ve become a real fan of historical mysteries in recent years. They often include a romance and liking history and a mystery is a given for me. Seriously, try the Amelia books. I think you’ll love them!

  11. Rogue is my first Anna Campbell and it ticked all the boxes for what I love in a romance. Have two others on my TBR pile and Midnight on my TBR list.

    • Fiona, I didn’t realise Rogue was the first book of mine you’d read! How lovely that you enjoyed it. Thank you so much! Actually I think Captive of Sin might appeal to you – nice virginal heroine, LOL! Happy reading!

  12. Thanks for a fun post! I haven’t read this series but it sounds fun :)

    • Erin, so glad I could introduce you to Amelia Peabody and her circle. Seriously, give them a go. They’re great fun and beautifully written and the Egyptian background is fascinating.

  13. I totally agree with you. Love this series. :) I love how ‘wordy’ Ramses was when he was a little a little boy especially. :)

    I enjoyed your other books and looking forward to your latest! :)

    • Hey, thanks so much, May. So glad you’re looking forward to Rogue. Oh, delighted that you’re already a fan – I think Ramses as a kid was a real charmer although I suspect he might have been annoying to live with in real life! I had a real soft spot for the Cat Bastet too.

  14. I love history, so yes I’m a fan of historical mysteries. I like a little romance mixed in with other genres, a little romance never hurt a story in my opinion. I haven’t read any of the Amelia Peabody stories, but they sound really good.

  15. Barbara, give the Amelias a go. I think you’ll like them. There’s always a bit of romance involved – sometimes quite a lot. And the characters and humor are great. Thanks for swinging by.

  16. For about 10 years I read mysteries almost exclusively. I have read the Nevada Barr series and all 3 series by Elizabeth Peters. Peabody for President – YES! I also like the Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow which is how I started reading SciFi/ UF and romance books again. I had Dana Stabenow on author alert at the library and she edited an anthology which I would call paranormal stories. I loved some of them and started reading the series of the authors in it.

    • Northwoman, thanks so much for the recommendation. I’ve never heard of Dana Stabenow. I’ll have to check her out – sounds like we share tastes in mysteries. Another two series that I just love are the Daisy Dalrymple series by Carola Dunn – light and Golden Agey and great fun, they’re set in the 1920s and Daisy is an aristocratic amateur investigator – and the Maisey Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear – much darker, set in Britain in the 1930s, but really fascinating. So glad you’re another Amelia fan!

  17. Nice post. I haven’t read the Amelia Peabody books, but they sound interesting.

  18. I’m a old-fashioned Victoria Holt fan as she wrote gothic romance novels mixed in with a good mystery. Exactly my cup of tea!

  19. Connie, I’m reading On the Night of the Seventh Moon right now for a Romance Dish review next month. You’ll have to swing by then and share your favorites! By the way, I highly recommend Amelia. I think you’d like them!

  20. I love reading romance, suspence, mystery, and intrigue…especially when they take place in exotic locations and involve legends. LOL. I’ve not read the Amelia Peabody books but keep hearing such good things about them, feel I need to give them a try.

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