Mystery novelist Barbara Mertz dies at 85

barbara-mertz-dies.jpgBest-selling mystery writer Barbara Mertz, who published dozens of novels under her two pseudonyms, has passed away at the age 85, her daughter Elizabeth tells publisher HarperCollins.

Mertz is perhaps best known for her series featuring archaeologist Amelia Peabody, which she wrote under the pen name Elizabeth Peters. The series has 19 novels and spans nearly 40 years, beginning in 1884, with the intrepid heroine spending a good bit of her time in Egypt.

Barbara Michaels is the other pen name Mertz wrote under, using that one to produce 29 suspense novels, including the Georgetown trilogy. Mertz also wrote nonfiction books about ancient Egypt, having received her Ph.D. in Egyptology at the age of 23.

But she found her passion was writing and sold her first novel in 1966. In 1998, Mertz received the grandmaster lifetime achievement award from the Mystery Writers of America, which is the top award the group gives out.

Mertz is survived by two children, Elizabeth and Peter, and six grandchildren.
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