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Going Ape at Avon
-- 9/7/98
She was heralded by the Washington Post as "Indiana Jones, Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple all rolled into one," and she isn't even a real person. Author Elizabeth Peters, aka Barbara Michaels, is in real life Barbara Mertz, who holds a Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute and has authored three nonfiction books on that country. She was also recently crowned Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. This month'spublication of The Ape Who Guards the Balance marks not only the 10th appearance of Peters's Edwardian Egyptologist, Amelia Peabody, but also becomes the centerpiece for Avon's relaunch of its mystery line, Avon Twilight. While the book has been in the top 20 for the past few weeks, it has not yet climbed onto the national charts. Included in Avon's major publicity push for The Ape... are an Associated Press feature and an interview on NPR's All Things Considered, both scheduled to run this week; an interview with Peters has already aired on CNN. Peters's eight-city tour, which began on August 22 in Charlotte, N.C., includes not only the customary bookstore stops but speaking engagements at major museums and libraries; it concludes in Toronto with a discussion and signing at, appropriately, the Royal Ontario Museum's Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities. Avon reports 50,000 copies in print after two printings -- and that's some monkey business.

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