Today, completely by chance, I discovered that Barbara Mertz had died… last summer! She was one of my favourite authors, so how, you might ask, did I not know she was dead until now?
Because she wrote under a pseudonym – Elizabeth Peters (among others). And she wrote the most glorious series of Egyptian historical detective novels. And now there won’t be any more. And that makes me terribly sad.
If neither of the names mean anything to you still, then you might be more familiar with Amelia Peabody? Yes? No?
If yes, then right now, you’re probably as devastated as I am right now.
If no, then, my, what a treat you have in store. Let me see, if you’re already a fan of Agatha Christie’s Marple and Poirot, Kerry Greenwood’s Miss Fisher, or what Waterstone’s describe as ‘cosy crime’ then this series is right up your street.
Let me introduce you to Miss Peabody – a thoroughly Victorian feminist. She inherits some money and pursuing a whim (not that she’d describe it as such), she decides to travel to Egypt and delve into the world of archaeology. First though, she stops in Rome, where she picks up gentlewoman in distress – Evelyn Barton-Forbes. What follows in Egypt is a series of shenanigans worthy of the best crime novels, and all narrated in Amelia’s no nonsense, ballsy and unintentionally hilarious hand.
It really is delicious. And there are 18 more novels to enjoy; you lucky lucky sausage. She’s also written two more series under this pen name, as well as another two series and multiple standalone novels as Barbara Michaels.
As a professional Egyptologist as well, every element in the Peabody series rings true, but she never bores you with fact. I honestly cannot recommend it enough. In fact, that’s it, stop reading this right now (although come back later!), and buy Crocodile on the Sandbank.
“Marriage should be a balanced stalemate between equal adversaries.”
“Men are never of any use in an emergency.”
“No woman really wants a man to carry her off; she only wants him to want to do it.”
“These hired thugs are never reliable.”
“Boasting is a habit in which I never indulge.”
“There is a layer of primitive savagery in most of us.”
“Abstinence, as I have often observed, has a deleterious effect on the disposition.”
“Husbands do not care to be contradicted. Indeed, I do not know anyone who does.”
“There is nothing like continued proximity to strip away the veils of romance.”
“If someone lies down and invites you to trample on him, you are a remarkable individual if you decline the invitation.”