He Shall Thunder in the Sky

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The “he” of the title He Shall Thunder In the Sky refers to Sethos, dubbed “The Master Criminal” earlier in the series and now again stalking the paths of Amelia Peabody and her family. That alone is enough to unsettle Amelia, who has a begrudging admiration for him despite his reputation for criminal enterprise. But the start of World War I has created immensely more serious problems.

Amelia and Emerson’s son Ramses is regularly being handed white feathers by their English acquaintances in Egypt as a taunt for his supposed cowardice in not joining the Allied military forces. Emerson is being urged to curtail his archeological digs. The Turks are about to attack Egypt and take control of the Suez Canal.

Personal problems abound. Nefret, the girl they had taken into their family, is suffering after a brief and disastrous marriage. David, the boy they had also treated as family, is now supposedly in a detention camp for his support of independence for India, but is in fact in Cairo in disguise. Ramses is secretly impersonating a rebel leader and is pursued by forces on all sides. Before long all the principle characters find themselves needing disguises, and the stakes become higher and higher as events unfold.

This twelfth novel in the popular historical detective series is a powerful one. The plot is complex and the consequences of action great. The entire family is much more involved in war activities than their acquaintances imagine, and the novel demonstrates that the resourcefulness and courage of a few individuals can indeed change the course of history. At the same time, events shape the characters, and many long-standing issues in personal relationships are revealed or resolved.