The Painted Queen

Written by Elizabeth Peters Joan Hess
Review by Rebecca Cochran

It’s 1912, and Amelia Peabody, with her beloved archaeologist husband Emerson, has arrived in Egypt for another excavation season. However, their delight with their cherished country is soon put to the test when a would-be assassin staggers into Amelia’s bath chamber and dies at her feet, with a knife in his back. What follows is a delightful escapade of a stolen Nefertiti bust, counterfeits galore, and murderous bad guys with monocles. As always, Amelia and Emerson jump headlong into the intrigue, putting their detective skills to work, regardless of the danger afoot. Old favorites such as Ramses, David, and Nefret play an integral part in this splendid adventure as well, which adds to the delight.

The Painted Queen was finished posthumously by Peters’ longtime friend and fellow author, Joan Hess. It could not have been an easy task for Hess to take up the challenge of finishing this last Peabody caper; Peters has been enchanting readers for more than 40 years with Amelia and Emerson’s antics, mysteries, and mayhem. But, Hess has deftly paid homage to Peters with a familiar tone and sarcastic humor throughout. It is with a heavy heart that we admirers must bid farewell to our favorite archeologist family. Readers should note that this was meant to fill in a gap between titles, so while it is the last Peabody novel, it is not last in the series. If you are unfamiliar with this series, start at the beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank, and be prepared to fall in love. I might just have to go back and reread them all.