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Discussion & Signing with Author Joan Hess & the Daughter of the Late Elizabeth Peters (Barbara Mertz)

Title: The Painted Queen


Egypt, 1912--Amelia Peabody and her dashing archeologist husband, Radcliffe Emerson, are once again in danger as they search for a priceless, stolen bust of legendary Queen Nefertiti and Amelia finds herself the target of assassins in this long-awaited, eagerly anticipated final installment of Elizabeth Peters' bestselling, beloved mystery series.

Arriving in Cairo for another thrilling excavation season, Amelia is relaxing in a well-earned bubble bath in her elegant hotel suite in Cairo, when a man with knife protruding from his back staggers into the bath chamber and utters a single word--"Murder"--before collapsing on the tiled floor, dead. Among the few possessions he carried was a sheet of paper with Amelia's name and room number, and a curious piece of pasteboard the size of a calling card bearing one word: "Judas." Most peculiarly, the stranger was wearing a gold-rimmed monocle in his left eye.

It quickly becomes apparent that someone saved Amelia from a would-be assassin--someone who is keeping a careful eye on the intrepid Englishwoman. Discovering a terse note clearly meant for Emerson--Where were you?"--pushed under their door, there can be only one answer: the brilliant master of disguise, Sethos.

But neither assassins nor the Genius of Crime will deter Amelia as she and Emerson head to the excavation site at Amarna, where they will witness the discovery of one of the most precious Egyptian artifacts: the iconic Nefertiti bust. In 1345 B.C. the sculptor Thutmose crafted the piece in tribute to the great beauty of this queen who was also the chief consort of Pharaoh Akhenaten and stepmother to King Tutankhamun.

For Amelia, this excavation season will prove to be unforgettable. Throughout her journey, a parade of men in monocles will die under suspicious circumstances, fascinating new relics will be unearthed, a diabolical mystery will be solved, and a brilliant criminal will offer his final challenge . . . and perhaps be unmasked at last.

Author Joan Hess & the Daughter of the Late Elizabeth Peters (Barbara Mertz) will discuss & sign the final installment in the Amelia Peabody Series


Barbara in her garden

Photo by Osmund Geier

Barbara Mertz (A.K.A.) Elizabeth Peters:

Barbara Mertz was born in Canton, Illinois on September 29, 1927.  Her father was a typesetter and her mother was an elementary school teacher.  Both of her parents encouraged her imagination and her love of books.  She was also heavily influenced by her Great Aunt Ida Tregellas, a high school principal in Chicago who took her to museums and encouraged her to read broadly.  The eldest of three daughters, Barbara attended Oak Park Township High School and then went on to college at the University of Chicago.

After completing her BA in 1947 at the age of 20, she went on to earn a PhD  from the Oriental Institute (OI) in 1952 at the age of 25.  She was proud to have worked with John A. Wilson, who oversaw her dissertation on “Certain Titles of the Egyptian Queens and Their Bearing on the Hereditary Right to the Throne.”  Following her marriage to fellow OI student Richard Mertz, she had two children, Elizabeth and Peter; she divorced her husband in 1969.

In 1964, she published Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs:  A Popular History of Ancient Egypt, which was followed by a second well-received non-fiction book, Red Land, Black Land:  Daily Life in Ancient Egypt.  She went on to publish mystery novels under the names Barbara Michaels and Elizabeth Peters, authoring over 70 books and a number of short stories by the time of her death at age 85.  She was a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt, and also belonged to the Egypt Exploration Society and the James Henry Breasted Circle of the University of Chicago Oriental Institute.

After her children were grown, Mertz settled in an historic farmhouse near Frederick Maryland, surrounded by her cherished cats, garden, and friends (not necessarily in that order).  In 1989, nearby Hood College awarded Dr. Mertz an honorary degree, and the Elizabeth Peters-Barbara Michaels Scholarship is still awarded by Hood to students showing excellence in writing.  Barbara Mertz died peacefully in her sleep at her home in Frederick on August 8, 2013.


Joan Hess

Joan Hess is a fifth-generation resident of Fayetteville, Arkansas (think bicycles, Girl Scouts, touch football with the guys, walking to and from school, tennis in the park, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates in junior high--all that stuff).

She received a B.A. in art from the University of Arkansas in 1971 and a M.A. in education from Long Island University in 1974. After a few false starts, she managed to combine the degrees and for several years taught art to three and four year-olds in a private preschool (where she found her level of expertise in the art world).

Ms. Hess began writing in 1984 (although, technically, she began in 1982 and wrote ten--yes, ten--unpublishable romance novels). Her first mystery, STRANGLED PROSE, came out in 1986 (yes!!!), and since then she has written twenty-one more mystery novels.

Joan in Razorback Red Ms. Hess was a member of the Board of Directors of the Mystery Writers of America and chairperson of the 1992 Edgar Best Novel committee (and two terms on the short story committee--can you say "slow learner?"). She is a former president of the American Crime Writers League and president for life of the Arkansas Mystery Writers Alliance (since she organized it and recruited all three other members), as well as a member of Sisters in Crime, Authors Guild, and a columnist for Mystery Scene Magazine.

She serves as the executive vice-president of the Whimsey Foundation, an organization that honors significant achievement in comedic mystery fiction.

She has been a guest lecturer at Southwest Missouri State University, Xavier University, the University of Arkansas, the University of Missouri (KC), Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, and Rice University in Houston.

She is a full-time writer and the mother of two. She has no discernible Southern accent. Her hair is not natural.


Event date: 
Tuesday, July 25, 2017 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Event address: 
7419 W. Madison Street
Forest Park, IL 60130
The Painted Queen: An Amelia Peabody Novel of Suspense Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062083517
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow & Company - July 25th, 2017

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