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by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess
William Morrow, July 2017
323 pages
ISBN: 0062083511

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

I can't remember the last Amelia Peabody mystery I read; it's been decades, I'm sure. So if you are looking for me to nit-pick the errors made by Joan Hess as she took on the monumental task of finishing an unfinished Elizabeth Peters manuscript, you are looking at the wrong person. I know there are Peters fans out there just as fanatical as the worst Sherlockian; I'm pretty sure Joan Hess probably had more than a few misgivings when tackling this job.

Radcliffe and Amelia Peabody Emerson are back in Egypt, looking forward to another season of excavating. Amelia is relaxing in a bubble bath when a man, apparently bent on her execution, falls into her bathroom, himself dead. In his pocket is a card with the word "Judas" printed on it. His last word is, "Murder." Emerson is less than delighted to find out that Sethos has saved Amelia's life; Emerson feels that saving Amelia is his job. Sethos also believes this. There are more attempts, more rescues, and more intrigue. Amelia's son Ramses and his friend David, as well as adopted daughter Nefret, are all involved. Another archeologist makes an amazing discovery as the various people connected to his dig die, are not who they seem, and such like. All in all, a typical Amelia Peabody adventure, and there is plenty of discreet marital activity - some things never change.

I thoroughly enjoyed THE PAINTED QUEEN. Perhaps, had I been keeping up on the series, I might have noticed some disconnect between what Peters wrote and what Hess wrote; I did not. It all sounded as I remember - and, for me, that was a good thing. Having read both authors, both with multiple series to their credits, I was afraid I'd be distracted. I was not. Amelia is just as assertive as I remember her. Emerson is just as profane. I know the last Peters I read had Ramses as an infant, so I enjoyed seeing what kind of a man he has become, and hearing about some of his escapades while he was growing up.

There are some loose ends left unresolved, which is too bad, and yet it will give ardent fans much to discuss over the years to come. I believe devotees of the series will be, all in all, pleased with this final novel.

§ I have been reading and reviewing mystery fiction for over a quarter of a century and read broadly within just about all genres and sub-genres. I have been a preliminary judge for the Malice Domestic/St. Martin’s Press Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Contest for at least 25 years. I live in Northern lower Michigan with my spousal unit, one large cat, and 2 fairly small dogs. My Sherlockian (BSI) nom-de-plume is VR; my license plate is BSI VR

Reviewed by PJ Coldren, September 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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