The Last Camel Died at Noon: 08/21/13
The Last Camel Died at Noon by Elizabeth Peters is the sixth book in the Amelia Peabody mystery series. It (for better or worse) marks a turning point in the series through the introduction of a new regular character — Nefret. If you find Ramses's personal life uninteresting or you have a problem believing in lost civilizations living under the radara, this book marks the end of the line for you!
These Amelia Peabody books have always been a serious nod to H. Rider Haggard's romantic adventures. In this book, Peabody, Emerson and Ramses get to live on Haggard's books. They are lured to Sudan by return of British control over certain areas, thus freeing up entire dig sites. Once there, they are lured further by the appearance of Mr. Forthright who has a fantastic tale of his missing family, and an old map on papyrus that is too good to be true.
The first half of the book is the standard, comfortable and formulaic mystery set up. But, where the dead body should be, instead, there's a mysterious secret civilization. There's a modern rendition of the ancient Egyptian language that (of course!) Ramses has a natural ear for. There is a power vacuum in the society's leadership and the whole thing is verged on civil war.
The first time I read this book, it took me a long long long very long time to want to read any more of Amelia Peabody's adventures. The whole thing was just too ridiculous for me.
This time, in my attempt to re-read the entire thing on audio, I was still feeling nervous. Although the story is still preposterous, Barbara Rosenblat throws herself into the reading and somehow makes it work. She puts such a tone of contempt in Amelia's voice that it appears she is perpetually annoyed at her situation.