Book Review: The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters & Joan Hess

ThePaintedQueenThe Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters & Joan Hess

Published by William Morrow on July 25, 2017

Genres: Adult, Fiction, Historical, Mystery

Pages: 352 Format: Hardcover Source: Library

2.5/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

Egypt, 1912—Amelia Peabody and her dashing archeologist husband, Radcliffe Emerson, are once again in danger as they search for a priceless, stolen bust of legendary Queen Nefertiti and Amelia finds herself the target of assassins in this long-awaited, eagerly anticipated final installment of Elizabeth Peters’s bestselling, beloved mystery series

Arriving in Cairo for another thrilling excavation season, Amelia Peabody is relaxing in a well-earned bubble bath in her elegant hotel suite in Cairo, when a man with knife protruding from his back staggers into the bath chamber and utters a single word—“Murder”—before collapsing on the tiled floor, dead. Among the few possessions he carried was a sheet of paper with Amelia’s name and room number, and a curious piece of pasteboard the size of a calling card bearing one word: “Judas.” Most peculiarly, the stranger was wearing a gold-rimmed monocle in his left eye. 


 I’ve been obsessed with the Amelia Peabody series since the beginning of my high school years and when I found out we were going to get one last adventure I was overjoyed. Sadly Elizabeth Peters passed away before finishing her work but Joan Hess picked up the mantle of her late friend and The Painted Queen was complete. Unfortunately it just didn’t hold up.

Everything just felt wrong. Both the story and characters. Most Amelia Peabody novels have over the top plots but this one was completely bonkers. It definitely added humor but it was just utterly ridiculous. Even the choice to set it during the 1912-1913 season bothered me and I can’t even blame Joan Hess for that one. It even took me way longer than it should have to get through it.

The characterization of Amelia and Emerson was pretty solid but Ramses, Nefret, and David were simply one dimensional. Even Sethos had more aplomb. At least the boys had some adventure but Nefret’s part was non existent. The writing style Joan Hess provides is similar enough to Peters’, but she just wasn’t able to replicate what I love about these stories.

Overall The Painted Queen was no where near the caliber of Elizabeth Peters’ original work. While I loved returning to this world and these characters, the magic of previous tales was lost. Hess honored her friend but failed at doing this story justice. I guess I’ll just have to make do with rereading all of the other books in the series. Definitely check those out if you’re interested!

Do you read a lot of mysteries? Ever picked up an Amelia Peabody book?

Let me know in the comments below!

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