Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Book One: Queen Hatshepsut and Egypt

Traveling was much easier when we first set out to see the world.  In the 90s the biggest fear was a long flight delay or missing luggage.  We didn’t even know how fortunate we were to see the sights we saw in Egypt, such as the Luxor Museum and the golden head of King Tutankhamen.

Finding a plot for a novel is much like a reporter’s search for a strong news story. What glorious tales we heard in Egypt, of pharaohs from Ramses to Tutankhamen.  But what struck us most was Queen Hatshepsut’s history, steeped in mystery and intrigue.  When we began to learn more about Queen Hatshepsut, the only woman pharaoh to rule Egypt, we knew we had our story!

By Szilas (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

About Queen Hatshepsut

Queen Hatshepsut was the only woman to rule Egypt as pharaoh. She is depicted here in masculine headdress of the phararoh.  Her step-son, Tutmose III, was in line to be the next pharaoh, but Queen Hatshepsut’s claim to be of divine birth, daughter of Amon Re, caused her to be hailed as the next pharaoh in his place.  Her twenty-year reign was filled with peace and prosperity.

Deir el Bahari
© Ad Meskens / Wikimedia Commons

A visit to Deir el Bahrari showed us her eye for beauty.  Past the little village of Quarna, through a haze of brilliant sunlight, the huge mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut blends in harmony with the towering, rock cliff behind it.  The sprawling structure with slender, Greek like columns looked amazingly light and graceful.  Its glory gardens were filled with flowers, and myrrh trees lined the courtyard. The temple was constructed by Hatshepsut’s architect , scribe, and rumored lover, Senmut. 

The Vengeance of Tutmose III

Smashed and broken statues lay where an avenue of sphinxes once led up to the monument.  When Tutmose III regained the throne, he vented his wrath on all of the queen’s projects and obliterated Queen Hatshepsut's name wherever it appeared and replaced it with his own.  But Queen Hatshepsut's marvelous accomplishments were impossible to totally destroy and remain in the stately ruins of Del er Bahari.

The Curse of Senmut: A Fictional Tale Based on History

Our novel begins outside a small village near the Valley of the Kings, where archaeologist Ardis Cole has been summoned by her mentor, Jane Darvin, to help excavate a recently discovered tomb--that might be the tomb of Senmut.
Soon Ardis assumes responsibility for the project.  With the help of mysterious Blake Lydon, she must unravel the tomb’s mystery—an ancient secret concerning two miniature obelisks of gold hidden by Queen Hatshepsut’s love, Senmut, over 2000 years ago.  As Ardis uncovers the ancient mystery, she finds herself drawn into a modern action tale of hatred, murder, and revenge.

So, how much of the background in our story is true?  According to history, Queen Hatshepsut had a scribe named Senmut (also spelled Senenmut or Senmout).  For her he promised to guild two giant obelisks in solid gold.  A trip was made to the land of Punt where great treasures, some never seen before, were brought back for his queen.

Were the two lovers?  That was rumored, but no one knows for sure.  It is true that he built a secret tomb within the queen’s monument so he could be buried with her.  If they were in love, because of their roles in society, they could never marry. 

Most fiction is based on truth, but there is a place where they part company.  And that is where our adventure begins--with a newly discovered tomb and Ardis Cole and Blake Lydon as they unravel the secrets of Queen Hatshepsut’s gold.

The Curse of Senmut is available on Kindle and as a paperback. It is also available on


Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Ardis Cole Series: Archaeological Mysteries Around the Globe

We have always been fascinated with archaeology and history and how the past and present sometimes intertwine.  Each Ardis Cole mystery is a story within a story, one dealing with an intrigue in the present, the other dealing with a mystery, murder, or love triangle from the ancient past.  In each instance the past and present coincide.  For Ardis Cole, unraveling the past is to unlock the truth of today. Below is a brief summary of each book in the series and location. 

Book 1:  The Curse of Senmut  (Egypt)

 Archaeologist Ardis Cole is summoned to Egypt by Professor Jane Darvin to help excavate a minor tomb.  When she encounters a murder, Ardis with the help of her associate, Blake Lydon, unravels an ancient mystery concerning two obelisks of gold hidden by Queen Hatshepsut’s love, Senmut, over 2,000 years ago.  As Ardis uncovers the ancient mystery she finds herself entwined in a modern tale of intrigue, revenge and murder.

Book 2: Unmarked Grave (Scotland)

Ardis travels to Scotland to do a facial reconstruction on a skull historian Bruce McBrier believes to be the remains of Sir William, a medieval ancestor murdered in battle.  When Ardis makes the shocking discovery that the remains are of a more recent murder, with the help of Mark Ridley, she goes ahead with the facial reconstruction in hopes the victim can be identified.  But someone is willing to go to great lengths to keep the skull’s deadly secret.

Ardis flies to China at the request of elderly Dr. Yong Po, to help him locate a Han dynasty cave tomb believed to contain a priceless white jade statue.  Her American associate, Grant Merlin, fails to join her.  Instead Grant’s ex-wife, Sheri, appears to take his place on the project, then is attacked on the cliffs by someone wearing a crimson opera mask.  Past meets the present when a centuries old “crime of passion” is eerily replayed on the research team.

Book 4:  Murder andthe Monalet Ruby  (USA)

While handling a bequest of pioneer and Sioux artifacts in South Dakota, Ardis  inherits a load of trouble- a stolen ruby, an heir who has disappeared, and a skeleton in the cellar!  Ardis learns that benefactor, Anthony LaMoine, had a runaway adopted son . “Find the son,” the housekeeper tells her, “and you’ll find the thief.”  But is the son really the guilty party?  And is mysterious writer-historian, Seldon Drake, really the man he claims to be—or an impostor?

 Grant Merlin summons Ardis to Russia to help his friend locate a priceless marble statue, Neva. The life-sized sculpture vanished seven years ago along with the artist, Treve Savik.  Most believe Treve destroyed his masterpiece then committed suicide after being jilted by the statue’s beautiful model.  When Ardis discovers the grave of a murder victim, buried for seven years, the search for the missing sculpture turns into a hunt for a dangerous killer.

We find our inspiration by traveling, especially to archeological areas.  We personally  visit every setting for our novels and do careful research.

 The next book in the series, Killer of Eagles, will be published this year from Rowe Publishing.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


A new Ardis Cole mystery, KILLER OF EAGLES, will be out in a few months from Rowe Publishing.  We are excited to have the sixth book in our series available in ebook and also in print. 

In this book, Ardis braves a sudden blizzard on her way to the isolated Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to  help her friend Ella White Owl locate her missing niece.  Carrie, and art  teacher at Shadow Pass High School appear to have simply vanished without a trace.  Medicine man Jim Walks-Alone shares with Ardis his disturbing vision about a "killer of eagles", which to the Sioux represents an evil person, and a destroyer of all that is good.

Ardis soon finds the girl's wrecked car deep in the canyon, a dead man who was shot through the head was behind the wheel  But there is no sign of Carrie.  Ardis' search for Carrie leads her on a hunt for a rare relic stolen from the local church, a wild chase through the badlands, and a face-to-face confrontation with the "killer of eagles."

Our inspiration for the book came from Loretta's experiences teaching on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and fascinating research about treasures hidden by the Spaniards.