No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Sunday, August 27, 2017

2017/77: The Painted Queen -- Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess

'Shall I tell you where we went this afternoon?’ Ramses said, unable to bear my cheerful prattle. It is a trait (or a weakness) inherited from his father. I have been known to take advantage of it when warranted.
‘If you must,’ I said in a pained voice. (p. 81)
Final novel in the Amelia Peabody sequence, set in 1912: begun by Barbara Mertz (Elizabeth Peters) before her death and completed by her friend Joan Hess. Unfortunately it's not a seamless collaboration, and I didn't feel Ms Hess had a grasp on the characters or the setting. Nefret has become quite foul-mouthed; Ramses succumbs to whims; Amelia has acquired an improbable new skill; Emerson suffers unusually poor impulse control. There are also a number of anachronisms ('the butler must have retreated downstairs for a shot of Jagermeister', twenty years before its invention) and continuity errors; some errors that should have been picked up by the editor ('after more than three centuries interred beneath the sand' -- er, I think you mean millennia in this instance); and a major plot point that revolves around the use of a chemical compound only discovered in 1912.

There are some nice moments, and some passages that evoke fond memories of earlier books. Amelia's admiration of the Nefertiti head (the 'painted queen' of the title) is wholly in character. But I didn't find this a satisfactory read, and am relieved that I still have some of Peters' original novels on the to-be-read pile.

No comments:

Post a Comment