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

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

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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061246258
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/29/2009
Series: Vicky Bliss Series , #6
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 297,017
Product dimensions: 7.48(w) x 4.34(h) x 0.95(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth Peters earned her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago’s famed Oriental Institute. During her fifty-year career, she wrote more than seventy novels and three nonfiction books on Egypt. She received numerous writing awards and, in 2012, was given the first Amelia Peabody Award, created in her honor. She died in 2013, leaving a partially completed manuscript of The Painted Queen.


A farm in rural Maryland

Date of Birth:

September 29, 1927

Place of Birth:

Canton, Illinois


M.A., Ph.D. in Egyptology, Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1952

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."


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."


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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The Laughter of Dead Kings (Vicky Bliss Series #6) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As an avid reader of the Vicky Bliss series I was delighted at the annoucement of yet another book following the amateur slueth. Once again I found myself glued to every page of this wonderfully clever book. I highly recommend this 'Laughter of Dead Kings' for anyone who enjoys a good mystery with a dash of romance and a pinch of humor.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The ¿Inspector of Antiquities for all Upper Egypt¿ Feisal arrives at the Munich National Museum to visits assistant curator American expatriate Vicky Bliss. She welcomes her friend who has come so far since THE NIGHT TRAIN TO MEMPHIS caper, but is shocked to see him so far from his beloved Egypt and coming to Germany without telling her. He asks to see her lover antiquities dealer John Tregarth.--------------- Feisal informs John and Vicky that someone stole King Tut¿s mummy from the tomb in the Valley of Kings pyramid. Based on evidence, the Egyptian police believe strongly that notorious art thief Sir John Smythe is the thief. Stunned as Tregarth was once Smythe, but no longer steals anything they begin investigating knowing they will risk Egypt to find the real culprit and return Tut to his resting place----------------------- After too long a wait, Elizabeth Peters fans will welcome the return of the statuesque amateur sleuth who along with her British lover and their Egyptian friend try to prove Sir Smythe is retired and someone else is imitating his M.O. The story line is fun to follow as the connection to Amelia Peabody is obvious with the tour of Egypt that follows in her historical footsteps, which in many ways dominates the plot over the investigation. Readers will enjoy the blissful return of Vicky and John as they struggle to stay alive and out of jail long enough to prove his innocence.---------------- Harriet Klausner
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this installment in the Vicky Bliss series. From the author's introduction (where she explains away the inconsistencies of time with the "current now") to the concluding paragraphs where an explicit connection to the Amelia Peabody series is made and there is a shadowy appearance by Ms. Peters herself. It is all lots of fun (and of course there is a very satisfying conclusion to the Vickie-John romance. The mystery is a good one and I enjoyed reuniting with such characters as Schmidt.
alice443 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Vicky Bliss mystery. It took me a while to get into because I thought I was going to be reading an Amelia Peabody mystery. I had even more trouble because the Bliss mystery was so modernized it hardly felt like part of her series (maybe I missed some transition books that would have carried me along). Nonetheless, the book has touches of Ms. Peters sense of humour so it was an enjoyable read.
little_prof on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While this may not be the most amazing book MPM has ever written I will always treasure it. It struck me as a thank you to her loyal fans (of which number I humbly count myself). The plot is so outrageous that I absolutely must applaud it. I could accept nothing less from dear Sir John, darling Vickie, and adorable Schmidt. No less a personage than the boy pharaoh himself should intrude on the attentions of our worthy protagonists. Plus I just love reading about Herr Professor Doctor Schmidt playing with his cell phone.
LesaHolstine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can't believe I waited fourteen years to read this book. I normally like Peters, under this name and Barbara Michaels, but this book was disappointing. It desperately needed editing. It was too drawn out, and too boring.
Cynara on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A sparkling addition (and finale?) to the Vicky Bliss series. It suffers only by comparison to the divine "Night Train to Memphis" and "Trojan Gold", the two previous books; I suppose the series couldn't maintain that emotional pitch indefinitely. Also, this book seems comparatively short, and doesn't have as much time to develop the plot and involve the reader's sympathies.I was thrilled to be among Vicky, John, Schmidt (particularly Schmidt) and Feisal again; some other old friends make an appearance as well. As always, Schmidt gets all the best scenes.Fans of the Amelia Peabody mysteries will be delighted by some references to the series, as well as the promised revelation of the connection between two of Peters' best-loved characters.Bliss of the finest kind.
bunnyjadwiga on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love Vicky Bliss, though this isn't the best of the series. John is not handled well, and Schmidt seems rather wooden in the first part of the book. On the other hand, who can resist Peters and her madcap desert races, people who seem to be something else and possibly are, and of course the archaeology. Worth it just for the revelation about Schmidt near the end, the feeling of completion, and the unexpected guest appearance of the author...
readinggeek451 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The new Vicky Bliss novel. It's been a long wait, but it's worth it.King Tut's mummy has been stolen from his tomb. Vicky's lover "Sir John Smythe" is the obvious suspect, but he's reformed--hasn't he? Now Vicky and John must find the mummy and clear his name. Friends and adversaries old and new help and impede their search. But which is which? And what is John hiding?This has everything one could want in an Elizabeth Peters novel, including some subtle in-jokes and a few surprising revelations.
ut.tecum.loquerer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Vicky, John, and Schmidt are all up to their usual tricks, but I didn't fall in love with this book the way I did Street of 5 Moons or Last Train to Memphis.(**Spoiler Alert**)I really hate when authors write themselves into their books, it comes off as so self-indulgent. This example was particularly pointless and galling.
kpapenfus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Disappointing, to put it kindly. Vicky Bliss deserves better. The bright spots are Peter's dry humor, and a cameo appearance by the author herself. Overall, my impression is that over the course of an excellent career as an author, Peters has actually developed a novel-writing template in Word. In order to release a new novel, her publisher enters the name of 3 characters we haven't seen before, hits the refresh button, and sends the results to the printer. In other words, Peters has gotten predicitble. If you need a Peters fix, I'd suggest going back to one of her earlier works. This novel will leave you unsatisfied.
jugglingpaynes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I've read in Elizabeth Peters' Vicky Bliss series, so I felt a bit like I was coming in at the middle of a conversation. Once I got into the story I enjoyed it immensely. I thoroughly recommend it to fans of Amelia Peabody. Ms. Peters has a wonderful sense of humor that never fails to put a smile on my face and suspense that keeps me engaged and reluctant to put the book down.
reannon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth Peters is one of the pseudonyms of Barbara Mertz, whose other synonym is Barbara Michaels. Mertz has a PhD in Egyptology, which expliais her fascination with country in many of her books. As Michaels, she writes Gothics. As Elizabeth Peters, she writes 3 series and various stand alones, all of which have in common strong women characters and an equally strong sense of humor. Peters is most known for the Amelia Peabody series, about a family of British archaeologists working in Egypt in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The series is very popular and she has written volumes in that series almost to the exclusion of her other two series and stand alones. One of the other series is the Jacqueline Kirby series about a librarian who becomes a romance writer, and the other is the Vicky Bliss series about an art historian working in a museum in Munich, Germany. I'm quite fond of all three series, and have been missing Jacqueline (she gives us librarians a good name) and Vicky. Now, after a hiatus of several years, this book brings back Vicky Bliss.Vicky has been involved with a reformed thief, now dealer in antiquities, John. The two of them, along with her wonderful boss Herr Schmidt, have had a variety of adventures. In this volume, the mummy of King Tut has been stolen and too many people think John must have done it. They are forced to find the mummy to clear his name. Vicky, John, and Schmidt are all terrific characters, and the plot is the usual Peters complexity with a strong sense of the ridiculous.It's nice to have Vicky back! Recommended.
CeridwynR on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've always loved the Vicky Bliss novels. Now I have no idea why. This one isn't well written and it lacks the sparkling banter of the others. Plus there's an egregious authorial self-insertion and overall it feels like something to make money. This series definitely ended at Night Train to Memphis for me. And probably at Trojan Gold.
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