Trojan Gold (Vicky Bliss Series #4)

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Overview

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

But the photograph art historian Vicky Bliss has just received gives rise to a thousand questions instead. A quick glance at the blood-stained envelope is all the proof she needs that something is horribly wrong.

The picture itself is familiar: a woman adorned in the gold of Troy. Yet this isn't the famous photograph of Frau Schliemann — no, this picture is contemporary. The...

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Trojan Gold (Vicky Bliss Series #4)

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Overview

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

But the photograph art historian Vicky Bliss has just received gives rise to a thousand questions instead. A quick glance at the blood-stained envelope is all the proof she needs that something is horribly wrong.

The picture itself is familiar: a woman adorned in the gold of Troy. Yet this isn't the famous photograph of Frau Schliemann — no, this picture is contemporary. The gold, as Vicky and her fellow academics know, disappeared at the end of World War II.

Now this circle of experts is gathered for a festive Bavarian Christmas. All of them — including the mysterious John Smythe and a very determined killer...

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Editorial Reviews

Baltimore Sun
Don't read it unless you want to get hooked!
St. Louis Post Dispatch
A thriller from start to finish.
San Diego Union
Wit, charm, and romance in equal measures.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380731237
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/28/2000
  • Series: Vicky Bliss Series , #4
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 368

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Peters

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.

Biography

Neither the Great Depression nor the lack of a public library in her small hometown of Canton, Illinois, deterred Barbara Mertz (the future Elizabeth Peters) from becoming an avid reader. Yet, when her family moved to a suburb of Chicago, she was elated to discover the riches contained in the town's local library and proceeded to devour every book she could get her hands on. She began writing in high school; but by that time she had already decided to become an archaeologist.

Mertz received a scholarship to the University of Chicago, which boasted a world-famous Egyptology department. Her mother, an eminently practical soul, encouraged her daughter to become a teacher; but after taking only two education courses, Mertz knew a career in the classroom was not for her. Determined to follow her dream, she moved over to the university's Oriental Institute, and received her Ph.D. in Egyptology at the age of 23.

The post-WWII job market wasn't kind to women in general, much less to women seeking careers in archaeology. Mertz married and began a family, but never lost sight of her life's ambition. While she was raising her two children, she decided to try her hand at writing. Her first few attempts were never published, but they did land her an agent; and in 1964 she published her first book, Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt.

Mertz authored two additional works on archaeology before foraying into fiction in 1966. The Master of Blacktower is the first of several gothic suspense novels written under the pseudonym Barbara Michaels. (In her biography, she explains that the use of pseudonyms helps readers to distinguish various types of books written by a single author.) The supernatural elements in the thrillers penned under the Michaels name have kept readers on the edge of their seats for decades.

In the 1970s, Mertz began writing under her second, more famous pseudonym, Elizabeth Peters. As Peters, she has authored books in three different series. Beginning in 1972 with The Seventh Sinner (1972), the first series features a glamorous librarian-turned-romance novelist named Jacqueline Kirby (the final Jacqueline Kirby mystery, Naked Once More, won a coveted Agatha Award in 1989). The second series, starring American art historian Vicky Bliss, debuted in 1973 with Borrower of the Night (Vicky's last outing was 2008's Laughter of Dead Kings). Then, in 1975, Peters introduced her most famous protagonist, archeologist/sleuth Amelia Peabody, in a dandy adventure entitled Crocodile on the Sandbank.

From the first, readers loved Amelia, a plucky Victorian feminist who—together with her husband, the distinguished Egyptologist Radcliffe Emerston—has gone on to solve countless mysteries in the Middle East. Peabody fans received an extra treat in 2003 with Amelia Peabody's Egypt: A Compendium to Her Journals, a nonfiction stroll through ancient Egypt that included nearly 600 photographs and illustrations, plus expert academic articles.

In addition to her three series, Mertz has written several standalone suspense novels as Elizabeth Peters. She has this to say about her successful, prolific career: "The craft of writing delights me. It is impossible to attain perfection; there is always something more to be learned—figuring out new techniques of plotting or characterization, struggling with recalcitrant sentences until I force them to approximate my meaning. And nothing is ever wasted. Everything one sees and hears, everything one learns, can be used."

Good To Know

The pseudonym Elizabeth Peters is taken from her two children, Elizabeth and Peter. She uses three pseudonyms so readers can tell the difference between the three types of books she writes: nonfiction archaeology as Barbara Mertz, supernatural thrillers as Barbara Michaels and historical mysteries as Peters. For the record, Mertz has called the pseudonyms "a horrible nuisance."
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    1. Also Known As:
      Barbara Mertz, Barbara Michaels
    2. Hometown:
      A farm in rural Maryland
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 29, 1927
    2. Place of Birth:
      Canton, Illinois
    1. Date of Death:
      August 8, 2013

Read an Excerpt

Trojan Gold

Chapter One

Fire stained the night. The sky above the dying city was an obscene, unnatural crimson, as if the lifeblood of its people were pouring upward from a million wounds. As he fought through the inferno he missed death by inches not once but a dozen times. The conquerors were already in the city. Another enemy army was closing in from the west; but the horde of refugees, of whom he was one, fought their way westward with a desperate, single-minded intent. Throughout history, always the barbarian hordes had come from the east.

Unlike the others, he was not concerned with his own survival, except insofar as it was necessary in order to ensure the survival of something that meant more to him than his own life. This city would fall to the barbarians as other imperial cities had fallen—Rome, Constantinople—and the battle and its aftermath would add more wreckage to the monstrous mound of shattered beauty—dead children and mutilated women and torn flesh, burning books, headless statues, slashed paintings, shattered crystal.... One thing at least he would save. How he would do it he did not know, but he never doubted he would succeed. He knew the city, knew every street and building, though many of the landmarks had vanished in pillars of whirling flame and heaps of smoldering rubble. He would get there first. And in the lull between the flight of the vanquished and the triumph of the conquerors, he would find his chance.

He was more than a little mad. Perhaps only a madman could have done it.

That's how I would begin if I were writing a thriller instead of a simple narrative of fact. Exactly how heaccomplished it will never be known; but it may have been something like that. I only wish my part of the story had started with such panache—the death throes of a mighty metropolis, the fire and the blood and the terror....

What am I saying? Of course I don't really wish that. But I could wish for a slightly more dramatic start to this tale than a stupid petty argument with my boss's secretary over a stupid petty bit of office routine.

I love my work, and I don't really hate Mondays. I hated this Monday morning, though, because I had a hang-over. I am not a heavy drinker—I know, that's what everybody says, but in my case it's true. I make it a rule not to overindulge, in any fashion, on a work night. There were reasons—not good reasons, but reasons—why I had broken the rule that Sunday. They have no bearing on this story and they are nobody's business but my own. Suffice it to say that I was late to work and not happy to be there. If I had been in my normal sunny morning mood, I probably would not have overreacted when I saw what Gerda had done.

Gerda is, as I have mentioned, my boss's secretary; and my boss is Herr Doctor Anton Z. Schmidt, director of the National Museum in Munich. The National is small but what's there is "cherce," to quote one of my favorite film characters. The building and the basic collections had been contributed to the city back in the eighteen hundreds by a Bavarian nobleman who was as eccentric as he was filthy-rich, which is one of the reasons why our present collections are a bit unusual. For example, we have the most extensive collection of antique toys in Europe. We have a gem room, a medieval-art section, and a costume room. The noble Graf von und zu Gefenstein also collected ladies' underwear, but we don't display that collection, fascinating as it is to students of costume. At least the people who request access to it say they are students of costume.

The point of all this, in case you are wondering, is that our staff isn't large. Although Gerda has the title of Secretary to the Director, she types all our letters and takes care of most of the office work for the staff. No problem for Gerda; she is inhumanly efficient. She is also very nosy.

Since I was late, I wasn't surprised to see that Gerda had taken advantage of my tardiness to mess around with my things. I wasn't surprised, but I was irate. If I had told her once I had told her a hundred times to leave my desk alone. Those heaps of debris are sacred to me. I know where everything is. If people start tidying up I can't find anything. Gerda had stacked everything. She is a great stacker—nice neat piles, sorted by size instead of content, every corner squared.

She had also replaced my desk blotter. The new one lay there pristine and dead; gone was the old one, with its vital store of information-telephone numbers, shopping lists, addresses of shops, and notes on books I wanted to read.... And smack in the center of the nice new blotter was my mail. She had opened every letter and every parcel. The envelopes were stapled to the letters, which meant that in order to avoid tearing the latter, I would have to pry off the staples, breaking half my nails in the process.

I kicked the nearest filing cabinet—Hopping and swearing. I went behind the screen that concealed the really important objects in my office—the sink and hot plate and coffee maker—and plugged in the last-named article. I fully intended to kill Gerda, but I figured I had better have a cup of coffee first. Otherwise I might stumble on the stairs and break a leg before I got my hands around her throat...

Trojan Gold. Copyright © by Elizabeth Peters. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 14 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 15 of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2012

    Museum Curator in love with thief. Couple mismatch. Fun.

    One of my favorites. John "Smythe" is not the usual hero. I agree with the reviewer who likes more John. Street of the Five Moons introduces his relationship with Vicky Bliss and Night Train to Memphis follows this major John & Vicky tale. This one really showcases the conflicted duo. Though the sequel wins second place in my all-time Plot Whiplash Award. I won't (spoiler) say why. [First place is "Green Hazard" a tongue-in-cheek WWII spy caper by Manning Coles.] Trojan Gold also shows a lot of background info on Troy and archeology. Made me dig out old National Geographic on Knossos. Lots of plot confusion. This author is never predictable. Highly recommend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2005

    Better each time you read it!

    Smart, sassy, and sexy (not to mention humorous) Vicky Bliss is back, competing and colluding with rogueish thief and lover John 'Smythe' to uncover the meaning of a photo which may reveal the long-lost Trojan gold treasure. Satisfying read on so many levels: intelligent and humorous interaction between the couple, romance, and detection/adventure. One of my favorites of the sadly short series (Borrower of the Night (pre-John), Street of the Five Moons**, Silhouette in Scarlet, Trojan Gold**, Night Train to Memphis**) Starred ones are my favorites! Also, The Camelot Caper is kind of a possibly tied-in book if you're desperate for more John.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 17, 2014

    I expected to delve into an exciting historical fiction full of

    I expected to delve into an exciting historical fiction full of mystery, suspense, and adventure with maybe a touch of romance for good measure. Unfortunately, it fails as historical fiction, mystery, and romance. Vicky Bliss and some of her academic colleagues receive a mysterious photograph showing the ancient treasure that Heinrich Schliemann believed to belong to the site of Troy. No one knows much of anything, no one knows what they are doing and very few clues are found. So instead, Vicky Bliss has a catty attitude with every woman while every single man awkwardly and shamelessly flirts with her. This banal novel prattles on about Schmidt's overeating and loads of irrelevant, flirtatious banter. In the midst of missing treasure and murder, the eating, drinking, and tongue-in-cheek small talk and gossip ensues with little investigation or suspense building up to why the photographs were sent or who could have been guilty of murdering the sender. As for romance, there is very little sexual tension between Vicky and her true lover because Ms. Bliss has the same sportive ribbing with every man in her acquaintance. All the characters are shallow, flat, and as realistic as puppets. More time is spent discussing the behavior and whereabouts of the pet dog and the idiosyncrasies of the other women instead of trying to explore the historical and criminal intrigue that surrounds Ms. Bliss. I am bewildered that this cheesy and plot-starved rubbish has received such high reviews. On a positive note, the fair amount of SAT words give the impression that these prestigious and pompous characters are doing something worthwhile.

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