A unique treasure obtained by unscrupulous means, the small gold statuette of an unidentified Egyptian king is a priceless relic from a bygone era. But more than history surrounds the remarkable artifact—for it is said that early death will come to anyone who possesses it.
Enjoying a world finally at peace, the Emersons have returned to the Valley of the Kings in 1922. With the lengthy ban on their archaeological activities lifted, Amelia Peabody and her family look forward to delving once more into the age-old mysteries buried in Egypt's ever-shifting sands. But a widow's strange story—and even stranger request—is about to plunge them into a storm of secrets, treachery, superstition . . . and murder.
The woman, a well-known author, has come bearing an ill-gotten treasure—a golden likeness of a forgotten king—which she claims is cursed. Already, she insists, it has taken the life of her husband, and unless it is returned to the tomb from which it was stolen, more people will die.
Intrigued by the mystery, Amelia and her clan resolve to uncover the secrets of the statue's origins, setting off on a trail that twists and turns in directions they never anticipated—and, perhaps, toward an old nemesis with unscrupulous new designs. But each step toward the truth seems to reveal another peril, suggesting to the intrepid Amelia that the curse is more than mere superstition. And its next victim might well be her irascible husband, Radcliffe, their beloved son, Ramses, his lovely wife, Nefret ... or Amelia Peabody herself.
A novel filled with riveting suspense, pulse-pounding action, and the vibrant life of a fascinating place and time, The Serpent on the Crown is the jewel in the crown of a grand master, the remarkable Elizabeth Peters.
Arriving in Cairo for another thrilling excavation season, Amelia is relaxing in a well-earned bubble bath in her elegant hotel suite in Cairo, when a man with knife protruding from his back staggers into the bath chamber and utters a single word—"Murder"—before collapsing on the tiled floor, dead. Among the few possessions he carried was a sheet of paper with Amelia’s name and room number, and a curious piece of pasteboard the size of a calling card bearing one word: "Judas." Most peculiarly, the stranger was wearing a gold-rimmed monocle in his left eye.
It quickly becomes apparent that someone saved Amelia from a would-be assassin—someone who is keeping a careful eye on the intrepid Englishwoman. Discovering a terse note clearly meant for Emerson—Where were you?"—pushed under their door, there can be only one answer: the brilliant master of disguise, Sethos.
But neither assassins nor the Genius of Crime will deter Amelia as she and Emerson head to the excavation site at Amarna, where they will witness the discovery of one of the most precious Egyptian artifacts: the iconic Nefertiti bust. In 1345 B.C. the sculptor Thutmose crafted the piece in tribute to the great beauty of this queen who was also the chief consort of Pharaoh Akhenaten and stepmother to King Tutankhamun.
For Amelia, this excavation season will prove to be unforgettable. Throughout her journey, a parade of men in monocles will die under suspicious circumstances, fascinating new relics will be unearthed, a diabolical mystery will be solved, and a brilliant criminal will offer his final challenge . . . and perhaps be unmasked at last.
One of the most beloved characters in mystery/suspense fiction, archeologist and Egyptologist Amelia Peabody bravely faces gravest peril in Cairo on the eve of World War One in New York Times bestselling Grandmaster Elizabeth Peters’s magnificent Egyptian adventure, He Shall Thunder in the Sky. The San Francisco Examiner calls these heart-racing exploits of Amelia and her courageous family, the Emersons, “pure delight.” But perhaps the New York Times Book Review states it best: “Between Amelia Peabody and Indiana Jones, it’s Amelia—in wit and daring—by a landslide.”