07 March 2009

When I was at the library the other day with the boys, I checked the new release shelf as is my wont (although I've been pretty disappointed with most of what's come out in the past months).

This is what I found: The Laughter of Dead Kings by Elizabeth Peters

First a little background:
A very dear friend introduced me to Ms. Peters's works when I was 16 or 17, and I've been an avid fan ever since. I love the Egyptian history that permeates her books, and her characters are almost a part of my own family. There were a few of her Amelia Peabody books that got a bit dry, mostly because I didn't really care about Ramses's war exploits, et al. But I've read them all and loved most of them. I had read one or two of her Vicky Bliss books, although not since high school, and I remember adoring her characters in those books as well. So imagine my delight when I picked up this new book to find a new Vicky Bliss with Egyptian undertones! YAY!

The boys have all been sick with a nasty virus, so they had no energy for anything but TV and Wii last night. I curled up in a corner of the sofa, opened my book, and dove headfirst into what turned out to be the most amazing 4 hours of my life this year.

There are four main reasons I loved this book:
  1. Ms. Peters wrote herself into the book as a crazy writer who breaks into houses and bribes "venal men" for the Amelia P. Emerson journals.
  2. She wrote the Emerson family history into the story as a wonderful underscore for the Mastermind's backstory.
  3. There were subtle but definite barbs of animosity and sarcasm directed at a certain Egyptologist/Indiana Jones figure/tomb robber of the worst sort whose name I shall not bother to repeat. Either you like him or you don't. I don't.
  4. Only Ms. Peters would have the audacity to make the prime subject of the book and unsuspecting target of 'kidnappers' the mummy of King Tut. Yes, the main plot is the kidnapping of his mummy from his tomb in the Valley of the Kings--and I agonized through the whole book right up until his restoration to safety.

I thoroughly enjoyed all of the twists and turns the plot took, the elaborate ruses used by the characters to bring their quarry back into the light, and the sheer hilarity that pervades these books. While Vicky is not Amelia, she has a charm and wit all her own; although I must say I love little old Herr Doktor Schmidt the most.

I will confess to a slight problem on the subject of Vicky's love interest and sometime Master Criminal, John Tregarth. Although we find out late in the book that he was in fact a direct descendant of the Emersons, I realized by the end of the first chapter that I would not make it through the book without substituting another certain John into the mental image implanted in my head. I will admit that it was rather distracting to picture the Colonel in Egypt...and it was altogether tempting to place myself in Vicky's place in order to let that scenario play crazy games of its own. In short--sometimes you just have to let the voices in your head read along too. Keeps a happy balance.

This book will be a purchase in the not too distant future, and I hope to go back and get the others to complete the collection.

Ah, Elizabeth. Some of my most fond bookish memories are courtesy of your novels. I thank you.

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