the laughter of dead kings – vicky bliss mystery by elizabeth peters

Posted on July 7, 2010


Amelia Peabody’s Egypt is in trouble with the theft of a famous pharaoh. Is John Smythe at his old tricks again? It’s up to Vicky Bliss, art historian and amateur sleuth, to clear his name.

Did Elizabeth Peters really write this? By herself? Did Vicky Bliss die and an alien plant became human to take over her life, imperfectly, insufficiently? For everything about this Vicky falls short of the character from Borrower of the Night to Night Train to Memphis. What happened to the charm, sharp wit, and diabolical intelligence? Lost to the technological marvels of the 21st century?

Did Elizabeth make a cameo appearance?

Transplanted from 1994 (when the last Vicky Bliss was published) to 2008, Vicky Bliss along with John Smythe (master thief, lover, and frequent adversary) and Herr Dr. Anton Schmidt (museum director, bossy boss) often sound disoriented and out-of-character, clumsy where once she sizzled with energy.

To someone who adored the series, this was appalling.

I don’t buy the author’s explanation about the writer’s prerogative to play with time, allowing for inconsistencies. Fine. But was it an excuse to be lazy? Character integrity suffered big time. Vicky and John are supposed to be brilliant, and at the top of their professions, so why is he such a grumpy user of computers and Vicky ignorant? While Schmidt acts like a child who have never used emails and cell phones and now eagerly extolling their virtues.

Projecting much?

Before I read Laughter I texted a fellow Vicky Bliss fan, asking how I can manage not having a Vicky Bliss Mystery to go home to anymore. I was sure I would suffer from withdrawal symptoms.

I should not have worried. I ended up cured. In fairness, I did enjoy the fencing match and riotous rescue near the end of the book.

Posted in: mysterious