I can't imagine the world of mystery novels existing without the dozens of books written by Barbara Mertz under her pen name, Elizabeth Peters.
Barbara Mertz passed away on Thursday, August 8, 2013, at the age of 85. She brought readers countless hours of joy through her amazing books, plus inspired so many of us to become mystery writers ourselves. I doubt I would have discovered either the joy of reading or tried my hand at writing if it hadn't been for her.
I started with the Vicky Bliss mystery series when I was in high school. American art history professor Vicky Bliss traveled to foreign lands on mysterious and romantic adventures that were fun, incredibly clever, and full of memorable characters and settings. That was the gateway series that led me to the Amelia Peabody Egyptology mysteries set in the late 1800s, and the Jacqueline Kirby (intrepid librarian) series. Not to mention her stand-alone novels... It's no wonder I've devoted a full shelf, two rows deep, to fit her books on my bookshelf.
|Shelf devoted to Elizabeth Peters books.|
|This shelf of Elizabeth Peters books is two rows deep.|
In 2012, the Malice Domestic mystery convention honored Barbara with the Amelia Award, a new award created in honor of the Amelia Peabody character she created. She hadn't attended the convention in several years, and I had never previously met her. It was incredibly meaningful to meet her in person and tell her how much her books had meant to me.
|Barbara Mertz signing books at Malice Domestic 2012.|
As I stood in the signing line, I learned that my feelings were far from
unique. One woman even burst into tears upon meeting her. I wasn't
quite that demonstrative, but I admit I may have babbled. Yet you'd
never know it based on the gracious reaction from Barbara Mertz. She
congratulated me on Artifact
and signed my beloved old copy of Borrower of the Night,
the first book in the Vicky Bliss series, that I've held onto for decades.
|My beaten-up old copy of Borrower of the Night that I've read countless times.|
|I'm saving this book forever! |
|Meeting Barbara Mertz at Malice Domestic 2012.|
If you've never tried one of her books, here are a few that are good ones to start with:
- Borrower of the Night (Vicky Bliss Book 1)
- Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody Book 1)
- The Murders of Richard III (Jacqueline Kirby)
She will be missed by her family and friends as well as the scores of readers whose lives she brightened. Her marvelous books live on.