In Memoriam – Barbara Mertz

Barbara Mertz who also wrote as Barbara Michaels and Elizabeth Peters has passed away at the age of 85. (M)

As a young woman Barbara Mertz made the unusual choice, for the time, to become an archaeologist, in which field she earned her PhD at 23 years of age.

Marriage and motherhood shifted her career aspirations towards writing and her first books were nonfiction books about Egyptian history.

Her first published novel was The Master of Blacktower which was released under her pseudonym Barbara Michaels. Her earliest title still in our collection is 1979’s The Walker in Shadows (M)

“The house next door to Pat Robbins—eerily identical to the home Pat shares with her college-aged son, Mark—has been empty for years, the darkness within seeming to warn all to stay away. Now new tenants are moving in: affable Josef Friedrichs and his lovely daughter, Kathy, who has stolen Mark’s heart on first glance. But something is not right—something old and secret lurking in the shadows that fresh paint and new furnishings cannot mask or exorcise. There is evil alive in the heart of the house next door—and it means to feed on the fears of two families . . . and drag Kathy Friedrichs with it into peril.” – publisher

Her Barbara Michaels novels were primarily Gothic and supernatural thrillers. Her stories are set in exotic locations throughout Europe and feature engaging heroines and romantic plots.

Mertz’s two children provided the names for her next pseudonym – Elizabeth Peters. As Elizabeth Peters she wrote many books with perhaps her most famous mystery series featuring Amelia Peabody (M). Amelia Peabody mysteries are cozies known for their humour and a little bit of romance. Daughter of a reclusive scholar, Amelia Peabody was charged with running her father’s household developing her own scholarly interests along the way. Upon his death she inherited a substantial fortune and left for Egypt to pursue her interest in Egyptology.

The last published Amelia Peabody mystery is A River in the Sky (M)

 “August 1910. Banned from the Valley of the Kings by the Antiquities Service, Amelia Peabody and her husband, Emerson, are relaxing at home in Kent, enjoying the tranquil beauty of summer. But adventure soon beckons when they are persuaded to follow would-be archaeologist Major George Morley on an expedition to Palestine, a province of the crumbling, corrupt Ottoman Empire and the Holy Land of three religions. Searching for the vanished treasures of the Temple in Jerusalem, Morley is determined to unearth the legendary Ark of the Covenant. The skeptical Emerson wants no part of the scheme until a request from the War Office and Buckingham Palace persuades him to reconsider. The Germans are increasing their influence in Palestine and British intelligence insists that Morley is an agent of the Kaiser, sent to stir up trouble in this politically volatile land. Emerson can’t believe that the seemingly inept Morley is a German spy, but could he be mistaken? 

Determined to prevent a catastrophically unprofessional excavation that could destroy priceless historical finds as well as cause an armed protest by infuriated Christians, Jews, and Muslims who view the Temple Mount, also known as the Dome of the Rock, as sacred, Amelia, Emerson, and company head to Palestine. Though it is not to her beloved Egypt, the trip to Jerusalem will also reunite her with her handsome and headstrong son, Ramses, working on a dig at Samaria, north of the holy city. Before Ramses can meet his parents, however, he is distracted by an unusual party of travelers who have arrived in Samaria, including a German woman archaeologist and a mysterious man of unknown nationality and past. publisher

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