The Laughter of Dead Kings (Vicky Bliss Series #6)
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The Laughter of Dead Kings (Vicky Bliss Series #6)

3.9 25
by Elizabeth Peters
     
 

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For the first time in more than a decade, New York Times bestselling Grand Master Elizabeth Peters brings beautiful, brainy Vicky Bliss back into the spotlight for one last investigation. But this time the peerless art historian and sleuth will be detecting in Amelia Peabody territory, searching for solutions to more than one heinous offense in the…  See more details below

Overview

For the first time in more than a decade, New York Times bestselling Grand Master Elizabeth Peters brings beautiful, brainy Vicky Bliss back into the spotlight for one last investigation. But this time the peerless art historian and sleuth will be detecting in Amelia Peabody territory, searching for solutions to more than one heinous offense in the ever-shifting sands of Egypt's mysterious Valley of the Kings.

Who stole one of Egypt's most priceless treasures? That is the question that haunts the authorities after a distinguished British gentleman with an upper-crust accent cons his way past a security guard and escapes into the desert carrying a world-famous, one-of-a-kind historic relic. But the Egyptian authorities and Interpol believe they know the identity of the culprit. The brazen crime bears all the earmarks of the work of one "Sir John Smythe," the suave and dangerously charming international art thief who is, in fact, John Tregarth, the longtime significant other of Vicky Bliss. But John swears he is retired -- not to mention innocent -- and he vows to clear his name by hunting down the true criminal.

Vicky's faith in her man's integrity leaves her no choice but to take a hiatus from her position at a leading Munich museum and set out for the Middle East. Vicky's employer, the eminent Herr Doktor Anton Z. Schmidt, rotund gourmand and insatiable adventurer, decides to join the entourage.

But dark days and myriad dangers await them in this land of intriguing antiquity. Each uncovered clue seems to raise even more questions for the intrepid Vicky -- the most troubling being, Where is John going during his increasingly frequent and unexplained absences? And the stakes are elevated considerably when a ransom note arrives accompanied by a grisly memento intended to speed up negotiations -- because now it appears that murder most foul has been added to the equation.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

New York Times best-selling author Peters (www.mpmbooks.com) completes her Vicky Bliss series with this sixth title (following Night Train to Memphis), in which the art historian and her longtime love work to clear his name of the theft of the mummy of King Tut. Vicky's wit and spirit, along with engaging descriptions of Egyptian sights, combine to draw in even those new to the series. Audie® Award-winning narrator Barbara Rosenblat's (www.barbararosenblat.com) portrayal of Vicky is just as important to this wholly satisfying production. Her ability to inhabit the characters and her facility with dialects, accents, and emotions are singular. An essential purchase for public libraries. [Audio clip available through www.harperaudio.com; the William Morrow hc received a starred review, LJ7/08.-Ed.]
—Melody A. Moxley

Kirkus Reviews
Munich-based art historian and amateur sleuth Vicky Bliss (Night Train to Memphis, 1994, etc.) returns after a long hiatus to answer the burning question: Who would dare steal the mummy of King Tut?Vicky and her longtime lover John Tregarth, formerly known as high-end thief Sir John Smythe, are dragged into the search for the stolen mummy by their Egyptian friend Feisal, who's desperate to recover it. Well-known for his expertise in bold thefts, John is high on everyone's list of suspects. Even Vicky and her wealthy, eccentric boss Schmidt can't be certain he isn't somehow involved. Their efforts to prove John innocent take them to London, Italy and eventually Egypt's Valley of the Kings, as both thieves and law-enforcement agents eagerly trail them. When the tomb keeper, the only other person who knew about the theft, is found murdered, the sleuths are forced to take Feisal's cousin Dr. Khifaya, secretary general in charge of antiquities, into their confidence. Soon a ransom note and one of Tut's hands arrive for Khifaya, whose efforts to deal with the situation on his own are doomed to failure. As Vicky and Schmidt hatch scheme after scheme to recover the mummy, John calmly conducts his own investigation, often disappearing for long periods of time. Despite all the madcap misadventures, good eventually triumphs. An over-the-top adventure yarn whose potent brew of mystery and romance should make it another hit among the Peters (Tomb of the Golden Bird, 2006, etc.) faithful.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061246241
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/26/2008
Series:
Vicky Bliss Series, #6
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Laughter of Dead Kings LP
A Vicky Bliss Novel of Suspense


By Elizabeth Peters
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008

Elizabeth Peters
All right reserved.


ISBN: 9780061668289


Chapter One

I cover my ears, I close my eyes,

Still I hear your voice, and it's tellin' me lies . . .

My singing doesn't inspire thousands of fans to emit screams of delight, but I was a trifle hurt when my dog jumped up with a howl and streaked for the stairs. Usually he likes my singing. He's the only one who does like my singing. Otherwise his hearing is pretty good.

John was coming down the stairs. He halted Caesar's headlong rush with a peremptory order—something I've never succeeded in doing—and sauntered toward me.

I hadn't seen him for two weeks. My toes went numb. He was wearing a blue shirt that matched his eyes and those of the Siamese cat draped over his shoulder. One of his hands supported Clara's front end, his long fingers as elegantly shaped as the small seal-brown paws they held. Clara had not cared much for John at first, but he had set out to win her feline heart (the alternative being bites and scratches) and he had succeeded, with the aid of frequent offerings of chicken. They looked sensational together. He looked sensational.

So I said grumpily, "Right on cue. Why can't you come in the front door like normal people instead of climbing up to my bedroom window?"

"Itbrings back such fond memories."

Memories of the time when Interpol and a variety of competing crooks had been looking for him and the art treasures he had made off with. He was now a respectable antiquities dealer, if I could believe him. Which I probably shouldn't. Tellin' me lies had been one of his favorite activities.

I picked up the grubby wad of white yarn and the crochet hook precariously attached to it, which I had dropped onto my lap, and pretended to study it. Playing it cool, so as not to be beguiled by the winsome smile and melting blue eyes. Damn him, he hadn't showed up for two damned weeks. London is less than two hours from Munich by air. I should know, I'd made the trip often enough. Thanks to an indulgent boss I could get away from my job at the museum more easily than John could get away from his antiques business. Or so he claimed. Tellin' me lies?

"So how's business?" I inquired.

No answer. A thud and a loud Siamese complaint made me look up. Clara was on her feet—at HIS feet, glaring at him, and John was . . . not glaring . . . staring at me with a look of glazed disbelief. No, not at me. At the misshapen object I held.

"What is it?" he croaked.

"You needn't be so rude," I said defensively. "It's a baby cap. I'm not very good at crochet, but I'll figure it out eventually."

John staggered to the nearest chair and collapsed into it. He was white as a sheet, a lot whiter than the mangled little cap, which had suffered from Clara's occasional attempts to play with it.

"What the hell is the matter with you?" I demanded. "Bob—you know, my brother Bob—his new wife is expecting her first and I thought it would be a nice gesture if I . . . if I . . ."

He let out a long gasp of air, and then it hit me. Like a sock in the solar plexus.

"Aaah," I said. "Aha. Sometimes I am so slow. Is that what you thought? That is what you thought! Not only that I was about to become a mummy but that I—wait a minute, it's coming, I'll get it eventually—that I had got myself pregnant in order to trap you into unholy wedlock. And the very idea made you sick! You low-down skunk! You son of a bitch! I'll bet your mother has been hinting for months, 'Watch out for that worthless trollop, she'll try to—' "

"Vicky!" His voice is usually a mellifluous tenor, but he can outshout me when he has to, and believe me, he had to. He jumped up and came toward me. I threw the baby cap, complete with crochet hook, at him. He ducked. The ball of yarn rolled off the couch and Clara went in pursuit. John grabbed me by the shoulders.

"Stop yelling and listen to me."

"You did, didn't you? Believe it."

"Believe what? That you'd be dim enough to pull an antiquated stunt like that one? Never in my wildest fantasies. But you must admit my initial impression was justified by the evidence available to me at the time."

"Stop talking like a lawyer. It wasn't what you thought, it was your reaction. The very idea terrified you. You looked as if you were about to pass out."

"Yes."

I was gearing up for a loud, satisfying fight, but that quiet-voiced confession took the wind out of my sails. The best I could come up with was a feeble "So you admit it."

"I may be all the things you called me and more, but I'm not so complacent as to be blind to the consequences of my own misdeeds. Bloody hell, Vicky, I'm terrified all the time! Admittedly I'm one of the world's most flagrant cowards, but I'm also afraid for you. There are a lot of people in the big bad world who hate my guts and who harbor grudges." The words came spilling out, his face was flushed and his fingers bit into my skin. "When we agreed to be together, I tried to talk you out of it. I put you in danger simply by associating with you. But as you pointed out with considerable eloquence, you were an adult and it was your choice. You convinced me against my better judgment, and the few remaining shreds of my conscience. How do you suppose I felt, for one ghastly moment, when I thought there might be another hostage to fortune, a helpless, totally vulnerable, completely innocent potential victim of my various sins? The people I'm referring to wouldn't feel the slightest compunction about using a child to get back at me—and you."



Continues...

Excerpted from The Laughter of Dead Kings LP by Elizabeth Peters
Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth Peters. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Elizabeth Peters earned her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago's famed Oriental Institute. She was named Grand Master at the inaugural Anthony Awards in 1986 and Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1998. In 2003, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Malice Domestic Convention. She lives in a historic farmhouse in western Maryland.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
A farm in rural Maryland
Date of Birth:
September 29, 1927
Place of Birth:
Canton, Illinois
Education:
M.A., Ph.D. in Egyptology, Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1952
Website:
http://mpmbooks.com/

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