I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth Peters in all her incarnations, from her Barbara Mertz non-fiction, to her gothic mysteries as Barbara Michaels. I like her short stories, the stand alone books, and the series. I’ve read and reread all her books.
I found out last week, quite by accident, that The Painted Queen, a brand new Amelia Peabody, is scheduled to be published. I clicked the link because Elizabeth Peters has been dead these past four years, and I was very curious as to how a new book could be possible. Much to my surprise the book has been co-written by Joan Hess from Ms. Peter’s unfinished manuscript.
Evidently, I’ve been living is a fog for a while because the book was first announced several years ago, and it will, finally, be published in July of this year.
From reading all of Ms. Peters’ author notes over the years, I know that she was friends with Joan Hess (and wouldn’t I have liked to be a fly on THAT front porch), so I think it’s very fitting that Ms. Hess finished the book. I’ve read just about all of Joan Hess’s books as well, so I know that she is more than qualified to handle this task. And it’s fitting that a friend finish her book as she finished Charlotte MacLeod’sThe Balloon Man. (You can read about it on the Remembering Barbara Mertz website.)
While I was on the Remembering Barbara Mertz website I found a Rafflecopter giveaway for 20 pre-publication versions of The Painted Queen. (Which, of course I entered.) Part of the giveaway asks fans to tell how they were introduced to Sitt Hakim.
I remember that well!
Both Mémère (my grandma) and Grandma Trudy (my husband’s grandma) love to read murder mysteries, and they both belonged to The Detective Book Club. Some of you may be old enough to remember these books. They arrived monthly, and there were usually three mystery novels in each volume. Both grandmas were very generous about donating their books to me when they had finished reading them.
Just look at the authors featured in these books: Erle Stanley Gardner, P. D. James, Ellis Peters, Tony Hillerman, Charlotte Macleod/Alisa Craig, John D. MacDonald, Donald E. Westlake, Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen among many many others. In The Detective Book Club, I found Georges Simeon’s Inspector Mairget, Leslie Charteris’ The Saint, Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax (senior citizen and CIA spy), Hamilton Crane’s Miss Seeton, and Rae Foley’s Mr. Potter (which is who I always thought of when reading about the wizard and kept waiting for someone to say, It’s Murder, Mr. Potter).
Like my grandmas I passed the books to others–usually to my mother and sisters (all reader!), but I kept the copy of Crocodile on The Sandbank. That book was funny; Emerson was very cool, and it was about Egypt. (My family was stranded in Cairo in the early 60s. Our plane had mechanical trouble and an hour layover turned into a week stay, complete with a trip to the pyramids, my seven-year-old sister escaping the hotel, and a jewelry merchant who tried to buy my mother. So, I’m partial to books set in Egypt.)
I read other Barbara Michaels and Elizabeth Peters novels in The Detective Book Club over the years but didn’t really connect any of the novels with Crocodile on the Sandbank. Then I got one of the books from 1981 with the second Amelia Peabody, The Curse of the Pharaohs, as lead novel.
Within the first sentence, I knew that this was the sequel to Crocodile on the Sandbank. I read it in one night and then went to the bookstore the next day. I showed the book to the clerk, and she showed me a whole bookcase of Elizabeth Peters novels and then mentioned that she was also Barbara Michaels.
I may have heard angels singing.
I did hear my hubby tell the kids we were eating out that night because Mommy would be busy. And that he was going to have to get another job, because that bookstore bookcase full of Elizabeth Peters’/Barbara Michaels’ books was going to bankrupt him. (He wasn’t much of a reader then, but I’ve corrupted him.)
And that was how I was introduced to Sitt Hakim.
Amazon has pages of The Detective Book Club available. You can probably find volumes at every garage sale in the US. There are books on Etsy and ebay and for some weird reason they are listed as decorator books for ‘man caves’ I’m not sure why.
Did you ever read novels in the The Detective Book Club?
Where and when were you introduced to Sitt Hakim?
Will you be reading The Painted Queen?
And that Rafflecopter give away—I won a copy!
Marianne H. Donley makes her home in Tennessee with her husband and son. She is a member of Bethlehem Writers Group, Romance Writers of America, OCC/RWA, and Music City Romance Writers. When Marianne isn’t working on A Slice of Orange, she might be writing short stories, funny romances or quirky murder mysteries, but this could be a rumor.