A bulletin on the doings and undoings of
Barbara Mertz/Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels
Issue Number 32
Winter 20000
Kristen Whitbread, Editor

also look for:

Another Shirt Ruined! The Amelia Peabody Page
by Margie Knauff & Lisa Speckhardt With links to other Peters Web Sites

The Amelia Peabody Books


By Elizabeth Peters

In chronological order:

  • Crocodile on the Sandbank
  • Curse of the Pharaohs
  • The Mummy Case
  • Lion in the Valley
  • Deeds of the Disturber
  • The Last Camel Died at Noon
  • The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog
  • The Hippopotamus Pool
  • Seeing a Large Cat
  • The Ape Who Guards the Balance
  • The Falcon at the Portal
  • He Shall Thunder in the Sky

If we are told, for example, that "The Raj Quartet" is a four-volume epic about the end of British rule in India, we're apt to smile and say, "How interesting." Meaning we feel a certain duty to read such a tome, but never will unless we have both legs in traction.

--Martha Bayles in The Wall Street Journal

Elizabeth Peters:
A sentiment which does not exist toward the following book:

audiobooks RECORDED BOOKS available NOW
(as narrated by Barbara Rosenblat)

LION IN THE VALLEY paperback AVON BOOKS available SEPT 1999
DEEDS OF THE DISTURBER paperback AVON BOOKS available JAN 2000
STREET OF FIVE MOONS paperback AVON BOOKS available MARCH 2000


THUNDER IN THE SKY paperback available JUNE 2000
CURSE OF THE PHARAOHS paperback available FEBRUARY 2000
THE FALCON AT THE PORTAL paperback available NOW


I'd like to thank all of you who sent cards and presents. We appreciate them, even if time doesn't permit us to acknowledge them individually.

Some of you have been so anxious for a sequel to The Falcon at the Portal that you have started to plot or even write one yourselves. I hope you understand why I can't comment on these efforts. The more ingenious they are, the greater the danger that I may inadvertently borrow an idea - or that you may hit on an idea I was planning to use; in either case I might be liable to a charge of plagiarism. In less than four months you'll know how close you came - or how far off you were!

Vivia Boe: Why don't you & Ms. Mertz have an open house for us fans (or 50 chosen). If the idea of riffraff is appalling - do it like Martha Stewart does - have the guests all have to do yard work, cook, and clean up! I volunteer to bathe the Disc Thrower guy.

KDW Yes, well, we also considered joining Martha on her hike to the top of Hakepa Hill in the Pitt Islands to see the first dawn of 2000 alongside several hundred or so of her best friends and media. We stayed home.

MPM The suggestion (jest though it was - wasn't it??) left me in a catatonic state for two days.

Amber Myers: I have been trying to locate the source of the following quote which appears in the last lines of The Ape Who Guards the Balance: "I am yesterday, today, and tomorrow, for I am born again and again. I am he who comes forth as one who breaks through the door; and everlasting is the daylight which His will has created."

MPM: Compilation from The Book of the Dead, Papyrus of Ani

June Heim commented on her (mis?)conception of KDW and MPM: We knew that you girls were both married, but only that Barbara had a family. I had assumed that KDW was a newly wed, child-bride type.

KDW I cultivate that appearance. Takes a lot of work -- along the lines of Dustin Hoffman attempts to portray "Tootsie".

MPM Actually, June, I'm the newly wed child-bride type.

Ms. Heim further related the following experience: We were at the pyramids years ago, just for one day. ...As we were approaching the Nile and the pyramids, the narration from the guide was interrupted by the wail of a year-old baby. His grandmother took him from his mother's arms and crooned, "Everybody Loves a Baby, that's why I'm in love with you." (This was a wealthy New York family who had brought the children and grandchildren along.) Some Englishman rose and told the grandmother, "I hate your baby. I saved for over a year to be here today and now I can't hear the guide for that kid yelling. So, I hate your baby." The grandmother is probably still in shock, but the rest of us were cheering on, silently.

MPM I don't think I better comment on that!

If we are a little late with holiday greetings this year it's my fault. I went blithely off to Egypt, leaving Tim and Kristen to take care of two households and approximately fifteen animals of various species, to remodel the bathroom and argue with landscapers, and.... But I don't want to know what else they did, it might make me feel guilty. (Not likely, but possible.) I arrived home on Dec. 3, jet-lagged but feeling great.

As usual, I was accompanied by my stalwart fellow travellers, Dennis Forbes, editor of KMT, and George Johnson, KMT's special projects editor. (Or maybe I accompanied them.) We met in Cairo and went straight on to Luxor next day because a very exciting project was underway and we wanted to be on the spot in case they found something. For the first time since Howard Carter an actual excavation is taking place in the Valley of the Kings, exploring the small segment Carter left undug after he ran across the tomb of Tutankhamen. Several clues had led people to believe there might be another tomb there, between KV 62 (Tutankhamen) and KV56 (the so-called Gold Tomb). To make a long story short, they haven't found anything yet--or if they have, they aren't talking. But it was really thrilling to watch; we went to the Valley every other day and hung over the parapet, gaping down and calling out encouraging remarks, which I am certain helped a great deal. In fact, a number of interesting objects were discovered, including workmen's huts like the ones Carter had come across, various ostraca, jar sealings, and the like. One of the ostraca was described as erotic. It certainly sounded as if it were--but I never got an actual look at it. I am a lady, after all. (Still trying to get a copy.)

Other activities in Luxor included frequent visits to Medinet Habu, where the Epigraphic Survey is working in the Eighteenth Dynasty temple, and a jolting trip into the Western Desert to see some of the work that is being done on the desert road survey. These are the roads the ancient Egyptians used, sending scouts and patrols and messengers to control the desert approaches to Thebes. It's the most amazing terrain--not sand desert but rocks and more rocks- the wildest, most magnificent scenery--no modern roads and not a sign of life except for an occasional clump of camelthorn. I was reminded of my description of the flight through the wadis, in Night Train to Memphis. I must have had a premonition of what was in store for me when I wrote those scenes. Being more foresighted (and a few years older) than Vicky, I borrowed a pillow from the hotel to sit on. I had a very nice time, but some people complained bitterly as the Landrover bounced along. The driver was steering with one hand, which made it even more interesting. Luxor is like a small town; one runs across old acquaintances everywhere. A certain amount of socializing went on, but of course this was primarily a business trip. There's a new mummy museum, which is quite nice, if you like mummies. All in all we encountered a variety of mummies. One of our friends is working on the animal mummies in the Cairo Museum, x-raying and examining them. Cats, birds, crocodiles, you name it. In fact, if you would care to Adopt a Mummy, Salima is starting a project in order to raise money. (There's never enough money.) I'll let you know more about this enticing idea once it develops--but just think how your kids would love to get a photo of the mummy of their choice, as a Christmas or birthday gift.

I was also privileged to do a signing at the American University in Cairo. They have an excellent bookstore and a good library, where my talk took place. It was fun to meet readers from that exotic part of the world, and several loyal friends turned up to support me.

In case you were thinking of asking, I did purchase a few little things. Escorted by two friends (one Egyptologist, one anthropologist, both female and both rabid shoppers), I started out one day at ten am., and am proud to report that I was still moving, though sluggishly, at six-thirty pm. The day before we left Cairo Dennis and I hit the Khan el Khalili and picked up a few more little tiny items. I threw away some clothes and my toothbrush, which left plenty of room in the suitcase. I knew I should have bought that two feet tall, Tiffany-style head of Nefertiti. It lights up. But the three foot long, wire crocodile consoles me some. We haven't decided whether to use it as a toast rack or a file for letters we probably will never answer.

Ramadan, Christmas and Hanukkah are all in December this year; hope your celebrations were happy, and that the new millennium brings you all good fortune. It doesn't actually start till Jan. l, 200l, but never mind....

Two kinds that had far better leave to their betters
The noble art of exchanging letters
Are those who disdain to make any response
And those who unfailingly answer at once.

'grook', Piet Hein (as shared by Dr. Ann Macy Roth)

Following the poll (results published in the previous newsletter) many, many, many of you have been asking what MPM's next project is. She has just begun writing the next Amelia/Emerson/Nefret/Ramses book!


How I Spent My Almost-Millennium or How to Cram So Much Into One Vacation That You Cease To

"What vacation?" you may ask. "Weren't you sitting there, fingers glued to the keyboard, getting the latest edition of the newsletter out?" No, actually I was travelling. I wasn't even thinking about the newsletter. But then, I was traveling with nine others - six of them children (that doesn't include me, the child-bride, you understand.) And I was traveling with nine others, six of them children, in New York City. I was traveling with nine others, six of them children, in New York City, the day before the-world-as-we-know-it was supposed to come to a crashing halt. Perhaps it isn't so surprising that I wasn't thinking about the newsletter. It may, however, be surprising that I chose to travel in NYC under such conditions on such a date. Due to special circumstances the accommodations were free on that day. (It's a good thing the mother of one of my traveling companions chose to have hip replacement surgery at that time which left her apartment free. What luck!) In any case, I spent my almost almost-millennium touring NYC: the Met Egyptian exhibit, Central Park, Rockafeller Center, Time's Square, Shop windows, the pastry shop next to the Yankee store (I've got to find it again so I can enjoy their macaroons and madeleines again!), The New York Library, The ground floor of the Empire State building, Virgils Barbecue (MAN, did they feed us!), and the Long Island RailRoad.

And I spent the actual almost-millennium eating more of Virgil's Barbecue, talking about poor teenage decisions, and banging a pot with a plastic spoon, which I broke. The spoon and the pot. As for the almost-millennium dawn - I was sound asleep, with nine others, six of them children, on a living room floor in New Jersey. This was truly a Martha Stewart celebration failure. In any case - this is yet one more reason the newsletter was late and I'm terribly sorry about it but...I had a blast!

Food is the most primitive form of comfort.

-- Sheilah Graham, A State of Heat


It seems to me, since the baking season is over, since the flu season has started, since we're all, most likely, sick of cookies, the following contribution from Sandra Rosenau may be the most sensible recipe inclusion for the New almost-Millennium excess and those New Year's flu and colds!

Sandra Rosenau: I was thinking about Amelia and her whiskey and realized I had something to share with anyone interested. (After all, chocolate is only ONE of nature's wonder foods.) Being of Scottish descent on the distaff side, I know better than to ruin good whiskey by adulterating it. However, when you've got a painful sore throat, a stuffed up nose, and need a good night's rest, here's the perfect recipe. It was dispensed to me at a dim hotel bar in the Scottish lowlands one rainy night in 1989 when I staggered in and rasped, "Do you have anything for a sore throat?"

The Scottish Barkeep's Hot Whiskey Toddy:

Mix 2 tsp powdered sugar with 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 1/2 oz whiskey in a mug whilst boiling the kettle. Pour in 3oz boiling water. Carry to bed. Sip carefully. Don't forget to turn out the light.


My grandmother (of Irish descent) uses honey in place of the powdered sugar. Works for me! Then again you could heed my uncle-in-law's advice (and deed) contrary to all warning labels - Take One Tablespoonful of Vicks at bedtime -- no, not as a rub. (I suppose if you survive eating it you survive digesting it.)