My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have frequently admitted that I am a sucker for an amnesia plot, that grand old staple of television series and of romance novels–and yeah, Elizabeth Peters has one, too. That would be The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog, Book 7 of the Amelia Peabodies, in which Emerson loses enough years off his memory to make him think he doesn’t have a wife. You can guess that this causes Amelia quite a great deal of consternation.
Really, though, this book is almost less about that than it is about Amelia and Emerson rekindling the romance of the early years of their relationship. Ramses and Nefret are not active in this plot, although periodic letters from Ramses threatening his imminent arrival in Egypt bring some Funny, and much of what drives the events in this story are the ramifications of news getting around about the Emersons finding Nefret. This clears the way for Amelia to focus exclusively on her husband and with the mystery at hand. And that’s not the only relationship getting explored, either, as there are quite a few twists involving a particular character I shall not name for fear of spoilers.
And I’ll say for Peters that her particular handling of an amnesia plot is at least slightly less goofy than many. Yeah, you have the obligatory nasty crack on the head, but that’s not all the abuse that Emerson takes at the hands of his captors; there’s enforced intake of opium as well. I could have done without the psychologist showing up later to spout assertions about how Emerson doesn’t really want to remember that he has a wife, but hey, it does fuel Amelia’s tension through most of the plot. Plus, there is a nicely understated resolution to it all.
This would not be an Amelia Peabody without the appearance of at least one memorable cat. In this case, it’s Anubis, the first male cat to join the Emerson family, and the comparisons between him and Bastet and how the Emersons’ workmen react to each animal add some amusing color to the proceedings. There is delightful character interactionb between Amelia and Abdullah. And, of course, there is excellent mileage with Sethos. But I’m not sayin’ where. Wouldn’t want to give a Master Criminal away, after all!
All in all a fairly self-contained story, not vital to the overall arc of the series, but fun nonetheless, and the adventure ties in nicely with the Egyptian tale that Amelia translates through the course of the novel. Five stars.