I loved reading the whole Amelia Peabody series in order, I got enthralled by the very first book, Crocodile on the Sandbank written by Elizabeth Peters, and then read every consecutive novel until the last one, the 19th in the series called A River in the Sky.
Elizabeth Peters (real name Barbara Mertz) intended to continue the Amelia Peabody series, however, she passed away in August 2013. Nevertheless, there is now the 20th book out with the title The Painted Queen, written by Joan Hess in 2017. Which means that the Amelia Peabody series is going on!
Here is the list of the Amelia Peabody series in order starting from the first to the very last one based on the publication date.
Amelia Peabody Series
- Crocodile on the Sandbank, 1975
- The Curse of the Pharaohs, 1981
- The Mummy Case, 1985
- Lion In The Valley, 1986
- The Deeds of the Disturber, 1988
- The Last Camel Died at Noon, 1991
- The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog, 1992
- The Hippopotamus Pool, 1996
- Seeing a Large Cat, 1997
- The Ape Who Guards the Balance, 1998
- The Falcon at the Portal, 1999
- He Shall Thunder in the Sky, 2000
- Lord of the Silent, 2001
- The Golden One, 2002
- Children of the Storm, 2003
- Guardian of the Horizon, 2004
- The Serpent on the Crown, 2005
- Tomb of the Golden Bird, 2006
- A River in the Sky, 2010
- The Painted Queen, 2017 (continued by Joan Hess)
* Guardian of the Horizon was published as the 16th book, however, it fits in the storyline as the 11th book, between The Ape Who Guards the Balance and A River in the Sky.
* A River in the Sky, published as the last Amelia Peabody novel by Elizabeth Peters, however chronologically it fits between Guardian of the Horizon and The Falcon and the Portal.
The Amelia Peabody series follows Amelia, a self-proclaimed spinster who at the age of 32 wants to follow her main passion in life, Egyptology. She has an inheritance which she uses to go after her dream. Amelia Peabody is a strong-willed, fabulous Victorian woman who has her fault but is extremely intelligent and quick-witted.
The first book in the Amelia Peabody series, Crocodile on the Sandbank, is set in 1884. She decides to go to Egypt and on the way she meets Evelyn Barton-Forbes, a young woman who joins her on the trip on many adventures. This is the very first book where Amelia also meets Radcliffe Emerson, an archaeologist who will feature quite prominently in the next books.
This is a mystery novel but not a crime mystery novel as there are no dead bodies (well, except ancient ones) and no murder case to crack. The book is really more about the interaction between the main and secondary characters and less about the puzzles to be solved.
The second book, The Curse of the Pharaohs, does have murder which Amelia and Emerson are trying to solve while also worrying about their toddler they left back in England, Ramses.
The Painted Queen, currently the latest Amelia Peabody book, is written by Joan Hess, the author who wrote the Clair Malloy and the Maggody/Arly Hanks cozy mystery series. The book was initially started by Elizabeth Peters, but couldn’t finish it due to her untimely death. Elizabeth and Joan were friends for over 30 years now, and Joan accompanied Elizabeth on one of her trips to Egypt. When Elizabeth Peters became 80s old, Joanne rented for her a camel for the occasion.
Peter, Elizabeth’s son asked Joan to finish the story and gave her the manuscript and the accompanying notes so she can work her way through finishing it off.
Some people call Joan Hess’ work on the Amelia Peabody series fanfiction and they are not happy with how the book turned out. Others say that you can not really figure out where Elizabeth Peters ends and Joan Hess starts in the story, their writing styles are so similar.
The story in The Painted Queen takes place in 1912 when Amelia and her husband Radcliff arrive at Cairo once again. While Amelia is taking a well-deserved bubble bath, a man with a knife enters her bathroom, says “Murder” and collapses on the bathroom floor. This starts yet another exciting adventure for the Amelia Peabody fans. I only hope that the series will be continued with yet another book and The Painted Queen will not be the last in the list of the Amelia Peabody books in order.
Should we read the Amelia Peabody series in order?
I got asked this question from friends and acquaintances who know that I read all the books by Elizabeth Peters, and my answer is, it depends.
Each book does stand on its own, each story starts with the beginning of the book and ends with the last page of the book. Thus when it comes to picking up any of the books in the series, you won’t get much lost.
The reason I do like to read them in chronological order is that I love to see how the main characters grow over the years, to see how they develop from story to story. For example, the second book, The Curse of the Pharaohs, starts about 4 years after the story in Crocodile in the Sandbank ends. However unless you’ve read the first novel, you won’t get to find out first hand how she met and finally married Radcliffe Emerson, the love of her life.
I think reading the books in order also gives a quiet satisfaction of really getting attached to the Amelia and Radcliffe and cheer along with them when one of the murder/archaeological cases is solved.