If Barbara Mertz began her career as a novelist writing under the name Barbara Michaels, she finished it writing under the name Elizabeth Peters. (She created this pen name from the names of her two children.) Indeed, after 1999 until her death in 2013, she only wrote Elizabeth Peters mysteries, which allowed her to indulge her love of archaeology, art, and history. Her Peters novels were also more humorous, and included three long-running series. The first series, featuring librarian Jacqueline Kirby, began in 1972 with The Seventh Sinner, and concluded in 1989 with the prize-winning novel Naked Once More. A second Peters series, featuring American art history professor Vicky Bliss, started with the 1973 novel Borrower of the Night and came to an end with The Laughter of Dead Kings in 2008. (Fans of this series would also point out that a character who became a major player in the Vicky Bliss series made his own first appearance in The Camelot Caper in 1969.)
But there is no question that Mertz lavished special attention on the series she started under the name Elizabeth Peters in 1975, when the first Amelia Peabody novel, Crocodile on the Sandbank, appeared. Featuring the team of Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson, two Victorian-era Egyptologists, this beloved series lasted until the time of the author’s death in 2013, at which time she was in the middle of writing the 20th book in the series, titled The Painted Queen. In addition to the series of mystery novels, Mertz also published a companion volume, Amelia Peabody’s Egypt: A Compendium, with her co-authors. Some who knew Barbara well have hinted that she had much in common with Amelia – in all her complexity. In any case, their shared love of Egyptian archaeology is on full display throughout the Amelia series.