Today I was saddened to hear of the passing of Barbara Mertz, who wrote under the pseudonyms of Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels. A trained Egyptologist, as Elizabeth Peters, Mertz wrote the well-known Amelia Peabody mystery series. But it's her romantic suspense novels as Barbara Michaels that I adore.
I discovered them right after college, when I'd already read and re-read all of Mary Stewart. I devoured them all (in chronological order, natch) and then waited breathlessly for the next ones to appear. Like Stewart's stories, they feature plucky heroines, mysterious old houses, restless ghosts, and quirky yet attractive male characters who serve as the love interest.
The Barbara Michaels stories are just good old-fashioned reads for a rainy night. And I think it's time to work my way through them again. Back in May, I attended the Malice Domestic mystery conference. Mertz was in attendance, but I was too shy and overawed to seek her out. Now I'm sorry I wasn't a bit braver.
These words appear on her website today: "At 85, Elizabeth Peters (aka Barbara Michaels) is enjoying her cats, her garden, lots of chocolate, and not nearly enough gin."
A life well-lived, and books well-written. She'll be greatly missed.