The Laughter of Dead Kings by Elizabeth Peters (Vicky Bliss series)

It's been well over a decade since we were last treated to a new Vicky Bliss novel. Ms. Peters (aka Barbara Michaels aka Barbara Mertz) has obviously been focused on completing her Amelia Peabody series which wrapped up with the Tomb of the Golden Bird. And, unfortunately, the lapse between novels is what causes a huge continuity problem--a fact that Ms. Peters addresses in a forward.

Although this is far from the best Vicky story, it's well worth reading anyhow. The characters have always been the main appeal to the series, and reading this installment is like visiting with an old friend you haven't seen for years. Familiar, but also new.

I listened to this one on audio--tempted because the narrator was Elizabeth Peters's "official" narrator: Ms. Barbara Rosenblat. Rosenblat is one of the absolute BEST narrators of audiobooks. Only Jim Dale, of Harry Potter fame, comes close. Her skill with dialects and accents is so amazing to me. I have listened to other versions of Vicky Bliss, notably one voiced by actress Kathleen Turner, but only Rosenblat does Schmidt convincingly.

I won't spoil the ending, but I do want to say that Ms. Peters manages to tie this series to her other one and even makes an appearance as herself in the narrative of the story. Quite funny for fans of her other series.

If you haven't read a Vicky Bliss mystery, please do not start with this one. There is a chronology of sorts--although the changes in culture and technology may make it more confusing than it really is--and reading them out of order would diminish the impact. Technically a stand alone story, it is a novel that is so much richer if you've followed the characters throughout their previous escapades.

For those wanting to go back to the beginning, here is the order:
  • Borrower of the Night
  • Street of the Five Moons
  • Silhouette in Scarlet
  • Trojan Gold
  • Night Train to Memphis
  • Laughter of Dead Kings

I enjoyed revisiting these wonderful characters. For fans of the series, this has been a long time in coming.

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