The Passing of Barbara Mertz / Elizabeth Peters / Barbara Michaels

Yesterday was a sad day for many Cozy Mystery readers. I know there are a lot of fans of Elizabeth Peters‘s mysteries amongst us. She left us all a wealth of mystery reading. Her Amelia Peabody and Vicky Bliss mysteries are some of the most enjoyed by many mystery readers. There are also many fans of her Jacqueline Kirby mysteries and her stand alone mysteries.

Barbara Mertz was 85 when she passed in Frederick, Maryland on August 8, 2013. She had her Ph.D. in Egyptology, which provided her with first-hand knowledge for having her wildly popular Amelia Peabody mystery series to feature an Egyptologist. Her Vicky Bliss sleuth was an historian. Mertz used the pseudonym Elizabeth Peters (both of her children’s names) for her mystery series and several stand alone mysteries. As Barbara Michaels she wrote many stand alone mysteries, and as Barbara Mertz she wrote non fiction.


  1. Julia says

    Oh no! I love her books! I admit some impatience these days with her earlier heroines, as I mature and learn from my mistakes and they never seem to, but she was a wonderfully inventive and descriptive author. She always seemed to find that perfect balance between genuinely liking her heroines but not idolizing them or placing them on a pedestal. I have enjoyed so many hours lost within the covers of one of her books – books I read over and over again because even when I know who the villain is, it never dims the joy of inhabiting that world just one more time.

  2. Patty H says

    Very sad. She was one of my favorite authors having read all the Amelia Peabody novels and just started to re-read Vicky Bliss books. She will be missed.

  3. Donna says

    Oh, how sad…that is a great loss for the cozy mystery world. Was she still writing and publishing at 85 years? She must have had an amazing life! My condolences to her family.

  4. Kate says

    That’s so sad to hear. My mother and I were big fans of her stand alone suspense books, which we jokingly referred to as the “girl gets house” genre :)

  5. grannyfrye says

    August 9, 2013
    What a sad day…..she was a wonderful writer… a young girl I found her book sitting on a library table….waiting for my Mom to pick me up…..and I was HOOKED. Over the years I read her books and devoured them; then I started buying them and they were keepers. I read them many, many times……she was quite a woman and writer who will by missed by many…..I feel bad for her family……but they will have wonderful memories. God Bless them forever. smiles.

  6. Linda B says

    I remember how thrilled I was when I met her at Bouchercon in Toronto many years ago. I too re-read her books and still get a chuckle out of the first meeting between Amelia and Emerson. RIP Ms. Mertz

  7. Andrea says

    Elizabeth Peters started me on my cosy journey. I knew this day would come but still feel like I have lost a good friend. She combined all that I enjoy mystery, villains, Egypt and heroes. Thank you for all of the fabulous tales. Vale Ms Mertz.

  8. Lamia says

    My first encounter with Elizabeth Peters fiction was more than 20 years ago when our TV died and we didn’t replace it. Instead we got a talking book from the library on a random (never-done-this-before) whim and settled down to listen. At first we were bewildered: who was this terrible mother (we jumped right in at book 3)? Then we were amused. Somehow, right from the start, no introduction needed, Amelia springs from the page (or cassette).

    Sometimes characters insinuate themselves into your life. Amelia (then Vicki) did this. I check bookstores just to see if they stock EP books (even if I’ve gone a year or so without reading one), Amelia’s little phrases, her attitudes and opinions pop unbidden in my head sometimes. Even after all these years, she makes me smile.

    I never met MPM but a friend did—and brought a signed copy halfway round the world for me. I wrote once (the only author I’ve ever written to) and received copies of the newsletter she put out. The day I got those letters was like Christmas :)

    I have very happy memories associated with Elizabeth Peters (et al), so I was sad to read of her death—but grateful for the lifelong joy her writing has brought me.

  9. Laurel says

    Oh no! I hadn’t heard. That makes me so sad. :( She is one of my very favorite authors. I’ve only read her stand alone paranormal-type books, but just loved her. I own every one of them. I wrote to her one time about someone she mentioned in her book Vanish with the Rose. She had written about Lady Skipwith’s gardens and at the time, we lived in Skipwith, VA and her historic house was down the street from where I lived. I received a very nice hand written letter from her.

    Well, darn. :( She’ll be greatly missed. Off to break the news to my mom who was the one who introduced me to her.

  10. says

    I can think of very few authors who have brought this much happiness to my life. I have so many good memories of afternoons curled up with her books. I will miss her very much indeed.

  11. Jackie says

    I have had the Amelia Peabody series on my goodreads list for ages and have just started reading (and enjoying) them. I am sad to hear that such a talented author who brought such joy to others is gone.

  12. Cathy says

    So sad as I love the Amelia Peabody series too. Condolences to the family. Many thanks to MPM for all the wonderful books over the years. Hopefully, the next life will bring you as much joy as your books have brought to all of your fans. Peace.

  13. Moonlight says

    Glad to read that I am not the only one who enjoys re-reading her Amelia Peabody mysteries! I guess we can’t ask for more for someone who brought us so many hours of enjoyment then that they live a long and productive life surrounded by friends and family.

  14. librariegrrl says

    Elizabeth Peters was a great writer and gave me many, many hours of enjoyment. I still enjoy re-reading my favorites. I love Vicki Bliss and Amelia Peabody and all of their family and friends. I hope that Barbara’s family is comforted by the fact that she gave so much joy to so many. I envision her sailing in her dahabiya off into the sunset…

  15. another Jackie says

    Recently having discovered your wonderful website, I’m on the last chapter of “Naked Once More” & wanted to see what you had to say about the Jacqueline Kirby series (unlike Jacqueline, I don’t mind being called “Jackie”), & learned the sad news.
    While I was taking an adult ed class on Archaeology at NYU many years ago, the professor had a guest lecturer, an Egyptologist, for the Pyramids session. He told us of his friend Barbara Mertz, & of her Amelia Peabody books, & that she was to visit a mystery book store in town. She came looking as if she was dressed for a dig, & was absolutely gracious – even signing paperbacks we’d brought along, in addition to fresh purchases. One woman came with a suitcase full of books she’d brought for her friends as well.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Welcome to the site, another Jackie!

      What an interesting story about Barbara Mertz. It sounds like she was very gracious.

  16. Michelle says

    I am really going to miss Barbara Mertz. She was one of my favorite authors. I didn’t know she had died until this week. I was looking forward to another book by her and found out she was gone. I am trying to collect as many of her books as I can. I started reading her books about 7 years ago. I love the older gothic books the most .

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Michelle, how lucky for all of Barbara Mertz/Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels’ fans that she left so many great books…

  17. Dianna says

    I just found out that Barbara passed last summer. I have been a fan for decades and the last few years only checking her website once in a while as the books slowed down. I am very saddened to know she passed and feel such a loss. I looked forward to her books more than I even realized and finding out there will be no more has been a shock – I can’t even fully explain why knowing her age as I did.
    Thank you for having this website and sharing these wonderful memorial stories.

  18. Cat W says

    Saddened to hear Barbara Mertz passed away last summer. Her Amelia Peabody books have given me a great escape through some rough times, and always will. I’ve gained strength and knowledge from her tales, and when a writer can give you that as well as a darn good story, you know she was a shining gem amongst them all.

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