Summer of the Dragon

Summer of the Dragon

by Elizabeth Peters

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Summer of the Dragon by Elizabeth Peters

A good salary and an all-expenses-paid summer spent on a sprawling Arizona ranch is too good a deal for fledgling anthropologist D.J. Abbot to turn down. What does it matter that her rich new employer/benefactor, Hank Hunnicutt, is a certified oddball who is presently funding all manner of off-beat projects, from alien conspiracy studies to a hunt for dragon bones? There's even talk of treasure buried in the nearby mountains, but D.J. isn't going to allow loose speculation—or the considerable charms of handsome professional treasure hunter Jesse Franklin—to sidetrack her. Until Hunnicutt suffers a mysterious accident and then vanishes, leaving the weirdos gathered at his spread to eye each other with frightened suspicion. But on a high desert search for the missing millionaire, D.J. is learning things that may not be healthy for her to know. For the game someone is playing here goes far beyond the rational universe—and it could leave D.J. legitimately dead.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062119728
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/31/2012
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 419,000
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.80(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

Chapter One

I went to Arizona that summer for my health. Talk about irony...

No, I don't have asthma, or anything like that. What I had-and still have, for that matter — was a bad case of parents. Two of them.

Mind you, they are marvelous. I love them. Separately they are unnerving but endurable. Together ... disaster, sheer disaster. Ulcermaking. Productive of high blood pressure, nervous tension, hives, indigestion, and other psychosomatic disorders.

I had not meant to mention my parents. I don't Want to hurt their feelings. However, there is no way of accounting for my presence at Hank Hunnicutt's ranch that summer unless I make unkind remarks about Mother and Dad. Pride prevents me from allowing anyone to suppose I went there of my own free will. Oh, well. It's unlikely that they would read a book like this. Mother only reads cookbooks and Barbara Cartland; Dad has never been discovered with any volume less esoteric than the Journal of Hellenic Studies.

I am not knocking my mother's literary tastes. She is probably the best cook in the entire Western world, and if, after a life which has included economic depression, World War II, and assorted personal tragedies, she can still believe in Barbara Cartland, then more power to her. I wouldn't mind her believing in Ro-mance, with the accent on the first syllable, if she didn't try to foist her opinions on me.

Mother thinks every nice girl ought to get married, read cookbooks, and have lots of children so she can be a grandmother. I don't know why she expects me to produce the grandchildren. I have four brothers and sisters. But I'm the oldest, and Mother's grandmotherlyinstincts began to burgeon when I hit puberty.

Dad thinks that every nice girl, and every nice boy, and all the boys and girls who aren't nice, should be archaeologists. He can't really understand why anyone would want to do anything else. He feels that there are too many people in the world anyway, so if they would just stop perpetuating themselves, then they could all live in the houses that have already been built, and grow just enough food to give themselves the strength to perform mankind's most vital endeavor — digging things up.

If he had left me alone, I might have turned out to be a classical archaeologist. It was a case of overkill. The first toy I can remember playing with was not a doll, or a toy train, or a stuffed kitty. It was a Greek stater. (That's an ancient silver coin.) The reason why I remember it is because I swallowed it, and the ensuing hullaballoo, left a deep impression on my infant mind.

My room, during my formative years, was a horrible mixture of my parents' tastes. Mother contributed dons that wet their diapers and threw up. Dad sneaked in copies of antique statues. The walls were hung with drawings of Winme the Poch and photographs of the Parthenon. When I outgrew my crib, Mother bought me a canopied bed with ruffles dripping from the top. And Dad found, God knows where, a bedspread with heads of Roman emperors printed on it.

So it went, all the way along: cooking lessons from Mother, visits to museums with Dad. It's no wonder that when I went to college I promptly flunked the introductory Greek course.

At the time I was absolutely crushed. I studied for that course. My God, how I studied! Six hours a day. Id go in for an exam, smugly sure that I had memorized every ending of every declension, and then my mind would go totally blank. I can see now why it happened, but five years ago, when I was eighteen, I could only conclude that I was hopelessly stupid. I contemplated slashing my wrists. I mean, one takes things so seriously at that age. The day my adviser called me in, to tell me as kindly as possible that I had better drop Greek before it dropped me, I got sick to my stomach at the very idea of calling Dad to tell him I was a failure. I even got out a bottle of aspirin it was the deadliest drug I owned-and sat contemplating it for about two and a half minutes. Then I remembered that poem of Dorothy Parker's:

Guns aren't lawful; Nooses give; Gas smells awful; You might as well live.It made better sense than anything I had heard in Greek class. So I went out and had a double hot-fudge banana split and, thus fortified, called Dad.He didn't yell at me. I knew he wouldn't. He was just sweet and pitying and encouraging, which is lots worse than being yelled at. He"s felt sorry for me ever since. Poor girl, she will never be able to read Homer in the original....I slid into anthropology through the back door. It was the closest thing I could find to archaeology that didn't require any dead languages. If I ever get to my Ph.D., I'll have to pass an exam in German or French or something, but I do all right with spoken languages; and everybody knows how ridiculous those graduate language exams are.Anthropology had another advantage. It disappointed both my parents. I mean, living with those two required a delicate balance. International diplomacy is nothing compared to the skill and wit involved in keeping Mother and Dad more or less even in their fond disapproval of my activities. If I pleased one of them, the other fell into a deep depression, while the favored parent gloated offensively. No, the only way to handle them was to keep them both in a gentle sweat of frustration.I needn't mention what Mother's idea of a suitable college major was, do I? Right. Domestic science, or whatever they call it these days. I wouldn't know. I never got near that part of the university, if there was such a part. I took pains not to find out.

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Summer of the Dragon 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
luv2readDB More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Originally published in 1979, Summer of the Dragon has aged remarkably well. The mystery is fun, and protagonist DJ is a hoot. I love her running internal monologue, especially her ruthless skewering of crackpot archaeological theories. A great way to spend a rainy afternoon.
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