It has been nearly 15 years since Vicky Bliss, Elizabeth Peters' sharp and hungry contemporary protagonist, has had a new adventure. And while fans of Peters' best-selling Amelia Peabody series have thrilled to each new volume in that saga, readers have also been champing at the bit for more about the spunky, six-foot-tall art historian. Their patience will be well rewarded with Laughter of Dead Kings, sixth in the series.

When Tutankhamen's mummy goes missing from its sarcophagus in Egypt's Valley of the Kings, Vicky finds herself once again caught up in an irresistible adventure. John Tregarth, erstwhile art thief and Vicky's paramour, is suspected at once, and the pair sets off to clear his name, careening through Europe to Egypt (stopping in Berlin to protest—with ulterior motives and while distributing sausages—Germany's reluctance to return the famous bust of Nefertiti to its native country).

As always, Peters' descriptions of Egypt are a delight, and she balances this richness with a well-told, tight story, full of suspense and intrigue. Vicky's boss, Schmidt, from the National Museum in Munich, is embroiled as well, caught up in a romance that turns sour fast.
 
Any reader familiar with Peters knows that picking up her latest book is like sitting down with old friends. Her sharp wit and smart prose are unequaled, and she deserves every available accolade. But Laughter of Dead Kings provides more than another fantastic story. It also answers a question debated over and over by Peters' fans: how is John related to the characters from the Amelia Peabody series?
 
The answer is a good one, but even better is the bit that comes before it, when readers at long last meet the woman responsible for publishing Mrs. Emerson's journals, bringing together at last the two series in a most satisfying fashion. This scene alone is worth the price of the book—but don't look for details here. Rush and pick up a copy right away. You won't want to miss a single page.
 
Tasha Alexander is the author of the Lady Emily Ashton mystery series.

 

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