The Painted Queen By Elizabeth Peters & Joan Hess: Review/Giveaway

Sep 9, 2017 | 2017 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Joan Leotta

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of The Painted Queen, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.

It’s the Egyptian 1912-1913 archeological season. Our encounter with Amelia and soon, The Painted Queen (Nefertiti, wife of Akhenaton) is exciting. Amelia is startled in her hotel bubble bath by a would–be assassin who is himself brought down by a dagger. The fast start is typical of the series, but what is not typical is that this book comes out after Peters’ death. It was finished by Peters’ friend and fellow mystery writer, Joan Hess.

The Amelia Peabody series has, for twenty books, blended with equal skill, mystery, the wonders of archeological discoveries in Egypt, and the saga of the Emerson family, including Amelia Peabody Emerson, hunky husband Emerson, their son, and others. Peters, aka Barbara Mertz, a University of Chicago trained archeologist. This book does not pick up the family story from the latest point (chronologically in the early 1920s). The Painted Queen looks back in Amelia Peabody’s lost notes to tell us about adventure on an expedition we readers have not yet explored with Amelia et al. book

You can start the series with this book, but it would be much more rewarding to start at the beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank and introduce yourself to Amelia Peabody Emerson as she wields her parasol to conquer criminals and meet and marry Radcliffe Emerson, heartthrob and archeologist supreme. Throughout that book and in subsequent volumes, dry humor, a push for woman’s rights, and clever plotting love keep readers fascinated. Her books are a combination of a family saga and mystery that involve strange foes and master criminals in the antiquity-thieving business. Along the way, Peters creates characters we love, and also cleverly and with humor, inserts her own theories on love, mothering, archeology, and world politics.

When this superbly talented author died, August 8, 2013, I mourned her, and I also mourned her characters, especially the intrepid Amelia and family. Just a few weeks ago, I discovered she had left a legacy to her Amelia Peabody fans! She had already started archeological research and plot development for this book before her illness at age 83. Peters’ daughter asked Joan Hess, a fellow mystery writer and close friend, to finish the book. For a variety of reasons the project took three years. Hess deserves an ‘A’ for effort. They had corresponded about this book. Hess picked up the research by corresponding with Peters’ Egyptian resource. Hess completely sublimated her own style in order to honor the quirks and beloved (to fans) qualities of Peter’s style as used in these novels.

The three hundred fifty-two pages flew by as they always do with these. I will reread it probably more than once. Although I think Hess did a masterful job, I was a bit disappointed with the insights of “manuscript H” (the inserted italic paragraphs where her son, nicknamed Ramses comments) and in the interaction between Amelia and hunky husband, Emerson. I think Hess decided to tread lightly in these areas rather than transgress stylistically. It was probably a good decision. Looking over comments on Amazon revealed that many who read the book are glad to have this book, but are also now willing to let the series come to an end to preserve the legacy of Peters.

I agree. Happy as I am for the great unexpected gift of The Painted Queen, I am willing to let Amelia and the other characters remain peacefully in the land of the dead, coming back to us in our dreams (perhaps in movies or television?), and by re-reading the twenty wonderful books in this series. Thank you, Joan Hess, for your hard work. Thank you dear, Elizabeth Peters, for this book and for all the others.

To enter to win a copy of The Painted Queen, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “queen,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 16, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section.

Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:

You can also use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Joan Leotta is a writer and story performer. Elizabeth Peters is one of her favorite authors. Joan’s mystery fiction includes several short stories in her book (Simply a Smile) available by contacting her through her website at in paperback.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. I have enjoyed the first three in this series and will be reading more as time goes on. I even gave a friend some of the first books as a gift and now have her hooked on the series as well. Thank you for the opportunity to win this final book in the series.

  2. Such a wonderful and versatile author! I’m sorry this is the last one, but am glad we will be given the chance to have it!

  3. I enjoy both of these authors. Thanks for this chance!

  4. This sounds like a very interesting series. Will add it to my looking for book list.

  5. I always thought that when I grew up, I wanted to be Amelia Peabody Emerson. Thanks for this review. I have the book and have been waiting to read it, because after I read it, Amelia will be truly gone.

  6. Thanks for this review. I have the book, but had held off reading it. After I am done, Amelia will be truly gone.

    I always thought when I grew up, I wanted to be Amelia Peabody Emerson.

  7. This book sounds excellent, and what a striking looking cover as well. Thanks for the chance to win a copy. crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

  8. Can I say, as a BIG BIG fan of these books that I recommend starting at book one, as suggested.

    These are great stories, consistently well written throughout the series and I adore Amelia and her adventures!!

  9. I would love to read this book…thanks for the giveaway!

  10. I have read previous Amelia Peabody books and have enjoyed them very much. I look forward to reading this newest installment.

  11. This is a great series, sorry to see it end. Like the Egyptian setting and I’m looking forward to reading the book.

  12. I have read the entire series & have been awaiting this final book. Thanks for the chance to win it.

  13. We have a winner!


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