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The Painted Queen: 10/07/17
The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess is the twentieth and final installment of the Amelia Peabody series, a series I started reading in junior high. It's set in 1912, before the official discovery of the bust of Nefertiti and takes a historical scandal about said discovery and wraps into a complex shell game involving all the surviving villains from the series.
Barbara Mertz, aka Peters, died in 2013 and I thought therefore that A River in the Sky was her last installment, with Laughter of Dead Kings being her way of tying her two best series into one hilarious universe. I only happened to hear of this final book, finished by Joan Hess, through Barbara Rosenblat's Facebook page. Rosenblat, is the narrator for Peters's audiobooks.
Whether you chose to listen to the audiobook (which is a treat in itself) or read the print version — be sure to take time for the foreword. I admit, that I usually skip these things until after I read a book, but it was fascinating (and heartbreaking) to learn about the discovery of this manuscript and the effort that went into finishing it while keeping the tone and humor of the series.
The book begins with Peabody pampering herself with a bath in her hotel in Cairo. She is rudely interrupted by a man who staggers in, exclaims, "Judas!" and falls over dead. Now that's how you start a book. The remainder of the book continues with this madcap mixture of action, danger, intrigue, and hurumphing from Emerson.