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R.I.P. Elizabeth Peters / Barbara Michaels / Barbara Mertz

Aug 8, 2013

The publishers William Morrow announced today on their Facebook page:

It is with great sadness we relay the news that our beloved author, Barbara Mertz, (a.k.a. Elizabeth Peters) passed away this morning at the age of 85. Under her pseudonym as Barbara Michaels she has written twenty-nine novels of suspense. As Elizabeth Peters, she had produced more than 35 mystery-suspense novels, many of them set in Egypt and the Middle East, featuring the intrepid Amelia Peabody. Under her own name, she authored several nonfiction books about ancient Egypt, still in print today.

I remember stumbling across Barbara Michaels’ Sons of the Wolf back when I had read all of Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt and desperately wanted “More Like This, Please”.  Although it arguably wasn’t the best of her many romantic suspense novels, I was hooked, and through my local library and inter-library loan, I was able to read all the way through her extensive backlist.

At the same time, I was enjoying the delightful, funny, thrilling, romantic mystery series by Elizabeth Peters starring the intrepid Vicky Bliss (no-nonsense art historian), the sassy Jacquiline Kirby (librarian with an attitude), and of course the magnificent Amelia Peabody (Victorian Egyptologist and nobody’s fool).  It was only when I started actually working in libraries that I discovered that both of these beloved authors were the same person, and an actual academic expert of Egyptology, no less!

So today, in her honor, I will wield a parasol (well, an umbrella) with fierce resolve.  I will, gaze with respect upon the replica Rosetta Stone I use as a paperweight.  I will listen to jazz, sip a gin and tonic, and venture into dark and spooky corners when I might have hid instead.  And above all, I will laugh freely, love extravagently, and live abundantly, just like every marvellous heroine Barbara Mertz ever created … and generously shared with me.