So, reader. Are you an amateur archaeologist or an aspiring detective? A secret armchair Indiana Jones? Do you love horror, thrillers, maybe ghost stories? If so, I can recommend an author for you. No, not different authors—just one writer who does all of the things I mentioned, and does them well, too.
I’d like to introduce you to the world of Barbara Mertz. So prolific that she needed three names to contain her creativity, Mertz (also known as Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels) passed away recently at the age of 85. She has left behind a treasure trove of bestselling writing that encompasses mysterious episodes in shadowy pyramids, creepy yarns involving haunted antiques, and suspenseful escapades in creaky manses.
The stories she spun were meticulously researched, reflecting her background as a trained Egyptologist and archaeologist. But what brought that research to life was a deft touch with characters, a sense of humor, and a talent for crafting tight plotlines. As Barbara Michaels, she wrote thrillers and mysteries, often with a dark or paranormal bent. And as Barbara Mertz, she wrote mainly non-fiction about Egypt, which bubbled over with her own passion for history, her keen eye for human nature, and a lighthearted tone. To most readers, though, Mertz is probably best remembered as Elizabeth Peters. Writing as Peters, she brought gutsy Victorian adventurer Amelia Peabody into the world in a series of rollicking archaeological adventures.
While each of her personas offers readers a different “flavor”, Mertz’s enormous gift for storytelling delivers a consistently absorbing read from start to finish. If you’re looking for a little humor and a lot of intrigue in your weekend, I encourage you to consider taking home something by Mertz (or Peterson…or Michaels).