Elizabeth Peters was a pen name of Barbara Mertz. She wrote romance novels under the name of Barbara Michaels. She wrote her mysteries under the name of Elizabeth Peters. Born and brought up in Illinois, she earned her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago. Mertz was named Grand Master at the inaugural Anthony Awards in 1986 and Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America at the Edgar Awards in 1998. She lived in a historic farmhouse in Frederick, western Maryland. She passed away of August 8, 2013 of cancer. A private woman she did not want anyone to know she was suffering from cancer and she passed away in her sleep as she would have wanted.
Best known for her Amelia Peabody books Peters also had another decidedly independent and charming female sleuth in the form of the almost 6 foot tall blonde “Brunhilda” by the name of Doctor Victoria Bliss.
The castle is run by the cute little Irma Drachenstein. Every creepy old castle must have an odd relative and this one has not only Irma’s Aunt but also a rich old lady who is interested in the spirit world. The book introduces one of my favorite characters of all time, Dr. Anton Schmidt, who runs a museum in Munich.
The book proceeds to throw everything you could ever want with a spooky castle as a setting. There is a heroine who is scared of something, séances, secret rooms, attacking suits of armor, and enough crosses and double crosses to keep you guessing as to who is on which side. It is a great start to the series.
Vicky believes that the whole thing is a wild goose chase but decides to break into the antique store at 37 Street of Five Moons. There she runs into Caesar a Doberman watchdog that falls in love with her. She also finds evidence that there is a major swindle going on in the antiques world where brilliantly made fakes are taking the place of antique jewelry.
Vicky meets the enigmatic Englishman Sir John Smythe the next day at the antique store and her life will never be the same. This book also has a great castle belonging to an Italian Count that is supposed to be haunted. It turns out that Sir John is the private secretary to the Count. Of course Vicky ends up at the castle and the book has all the proper elements to make it a perfect mystery. There are ghosts, a formidable grandmother, a mistress, a disturbed son, servants who are not what they seem, dungeons, and we can’t forget an Italian Princess. It is good fun.
Vicky believes that John is up to something that deals with a fifth century chalice that was found in a farmer’s field in the late 1800s. The chalice was believed to come from the loot of Viking raiders. Vicky is contacted by rich elderly farmer named Gustav Jonsson who claims to be a distant relative of hers. It is no coincidence that he owns the farm where the chalice was found.
Vicky suspects that the man is being hoodwinked and decides to go visit and talk to him in person. Naturally she meets John up there and they are surprised by a criminal gang the next day who want to dig up the farmer’s land in search of more treasure. The mystery makes good use of an island that is cut off and some very nasty villains.
Where there is illegal treasure of course there is John Smyth. Dr. Schmidt has decided to take a personal interest in the case and help solve the mystery. It is a rich mixture of people who are all hoping to find the treasure for their own museums, a young widow who is obviously frightened, a hot headed cousin of the widow, and a mastermind who could be just about anybody. Instead of a castle this time we get an abandoned church and a lonely graveyard. Being winter in the Alps around Christmas we also get avalanches. This mystery has a lot of red herrings and is a bit confusing at times but still is enjoyable in the end.
Vicky’s fellow travelers include a very flaky mystery writer, Sweet and Bright and odd couple team where only Sweet talks, a charming multi-millionaire who is about to make a very large donation to Egyptian archeology, a very boring professor whose lectures are a cure for insomnia, her former flame and his wife and his mother, a ditzy widow looking for a new rich husband, and sweet little lady who has more in common with Vicky then she realizes. Of course Vicky’s boss Dr. Schmidt shows up to make life difficult as Vicky tries to keep him safe and he tries to insinuate himself in the case. Dr. Schmidt’s new passion is for Country and Western music. This book is treasure for people who love Country and Western music with its references and clues based on the music.
Vicky finds new enemies as well as some old ones who are not in jail as she had thought. There are again crosses and double-crosses and people who are not what they seem. Schmidt has a rather large role in this book which is a delight as he is one of my favorite characters of all time.
The story takes place again in Egypt about 6 months or so from the events of Night Train to Memphis. In the story someone has stolen the mummy of King Tutankhamun. All clues lead to Vicky’s lover John Smythe who now goes by his real name of Tregarth. John swears his innocence and he and Vicky proceed to try and find the real thief. They are joined along the way by people from others books. Schmidt again has a large and funny part. We also meet Suzy and Feisal who were in Night Train to Memphis and Jan Perlmutter from Trojan Gold.
The story drags a bit but I urge you to make it through to the end. There is a bit there that had me laughing so hard the first time I read it. I don't care if the story was a set up for Elizabeth Peter’s ending it is worth the ride. Rest is peace lovely lady we will miss your flair and your humor.
Readers & Book Lovers Series Schedule
|DAY||TIME (EST/EDT)||Series Name||Editor(s)|
|SUN||6:00 PM||Young Reader's Pavilion||The Book Bear|
|Sun||2:00 PM||What's on Your E-Reader?||Caedy|
|Sun||9:30 PM||SciFi/Fantasy Book Club||quarkstomper|
|Bi-Monthly Sun||Midnight||Reading Ramblings||don mikulecky|
|2:00 PM||Political Books||Susan from 29|
|Mon||8:00 PM||Monday Murder Mystery||michelewln, Susan from 29|
|Mon||11:00 PM||My Favorite Books/Authors||edrie, MichiganChet|
|TUES||5:00 PM||Indigo Kalliope: Poems from the Left||bigjacbigjacbigjac|
|alternate Tuesdays||8:00 AM||LGBT Literature||Texdude50, Dave in Northridge|
|alternate Tuesdays||8:00 AM||All Things Bookstore||Dave in Northridge|
|Tue||8:00 PM||Contemporary Fiction Views||bookgirl|
|Wed||2:00 PM||e-books||Susan from 29|
|Wed||8:00 PM||Bookflurries Bookchat||cfk|
|THU||8:00 PM||Write On!||SensibleShoes|
|Thu (first each month)||11:00 AM||Monthly Bookpost||AdmiralNaismith|
|alternate Thursdays||11:00 PM||Audiobooks Club||SoCaliana|
|FRI||8:00 AM||Books That Changed My Life||Diana in NoVa|
|Fri||8:00 PM||Books Go Boom!||Brecht; first one each month by ArkDem14|
|Fri||10:00 PM||Slightly Foxed -- But Still Desirable||shortfinals|
|SAT (fourth each month)||11:00 AM||Windy City Bookworm||Chitown Kev|
|Sat||12:00 PM||You Can't Read That! Paul's Book Reviews||pwoodford|
|Sat||9:00 PM||Books So Bad They're Good||Ellid|