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The Laughter of Dead Kings    by Elizabeth Peters order for
Laughter of Dead Kings
by Elizabeth Peters
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William Morrow, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Like the multitude of other Elizabeth Peters fans, I have long enjoyed her Vicky Bliss mysteries almost as much as her Amelia Peabody historicals. So I was delighted to have Vicky, an art historian based in Munich - and her insouciant ex-criminal lover John Tregarth (aka Sir John Smythe) - back in her sixth romp of an adventure The Laughter of Dead Kings.

As a bonus, Peters writes a fascinating (to anyone who has ever given thought to writing a series) Foreword, addressing the problem of the current now, and explaining why Vicky only aged a few years between books published in 1973 and 1994, while the world changed significantly.

As The Laughter of Dead Kings opens, Vicky and John are cohabiting in Munich (after his return from answering his mother's summons to the ancestral estate in Cornwall, where the mansion's attics were ransacked by persons unknown). They're visited by their friend Feisal, Inspector of Antiquities for Upper Egypt (whose new fiancée turns out to be another of Peters' delightfully resiliant female characters). Feisal needs their help to recover King Tut's mummy (which has been snatched from its tomb) before anyone notices its absence.

Of course, those who do know about the theft assume that John did it as it has all the trademarks of a bold Smythe heist. And of course, the irrepressible Herr Doktor Anton Z. Schmidt gets in on the action and is more irrepressible than ever - he dates Suzi Umphenour (some sort of U.S. agent who appeared in the previous episode) and eventually shows his true colors in Egypt! Go, Schmidt! There are murders and a kidnapping. John plays his own hand as always, to Vicky's great annoyance, and causing her great anxiety.

Elizabeth Peters gives fans another entertaining adventure, featuring all our favorite characters (and a few new ones) in The Laughter of Dead Kings. Schmidt wins the day (and an apt new girlfriend), all who deserve it get their comeuppance, and the book ends on a high note for Vicky and John. Don't miss this one!

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