Mistress of the Art of Death

May 5, 2007 at 1:18 am 3 comments

Year: 1171   Place: Cambridge, England

Someone has kidnapped and murdered four children.  Due to a climate of ignorance and fear, the Jews have been blamed and for their protection have been locked in the castle.  King Henry II is concerned because the Jews help fill his coffers, and with them locked in the castle, his finances dwindle.  He has to find a way to prove they are innocent.

Enter Adelia.    She is from Salerno, Italy.  Salerno is the one place where a woman can be educated and trained as a doctor.  She is a speaker for the dead, an early practitioner of forensic science.  She accompanies Simon, a Jew, who is investigating the case as well as Mansur, a Saracen and a eunuch who is her manservant.

Of course, all is not pretty for a woman in England in 1171.  If word gets out that she practices medicine she could be tried for being a witch.   She must hide her knowledge and work under the pretense that Mansur is the doctor and instructing her in Arabic.   Not an easy task for a proud woman to achieve.

And tensions run high in Cambridge.   The nuns at the convent have boiled the bones of one of the victims and are treating him as a saintly relic.  There are rogue Crusaders in town, not to mention the prior and the monastery.  And the Jews are still locked in the castle.  The murderer could be anyone.  But murderers leave signatures and it is up to Adelia to follow the clues and find a solution.

If you like historical mystery, this is your book.  Adelia is a perfect character to follow.  Her struggles as a woman in such a time make for an interesting read.   The time period is unsettling and danger lurks at every corner.  Will Adelia make it through?

It is interesting to see how the forefathers of CSI are able to examine a body and find the evidence they need.   And what stands in their way.  For example, Adelia cannot examine the corpse of a Jewish man to see if he was murdered because a woman would never have been allowed to see a Jewish corpse.  Makes it very difficult for her to do her job.

And the story leaves the ending open to hopefully find Adelia in further adventures.   The book is well written and really evokes the atmosphere of the past.   If you want to be swept away in a story full of intrigue and some harrowing and dangerous occurances, read Mistress of the Art of Death.  It’s by Ariana Franklin.


Entry filed under: books.

Random Thoughts Sunday. Still Random

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kev in NZ  |  May 5, 2007 at 9:56 am

    Wishing you a great weekend over there in USA.

    I just love Taco’s. I cant get them very often here in New Zealand.

    Kev in NZ

  • 2. Sidney Hound [liits]  |  May 5, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Have you tried the Edith Pargeter / Ellis Peters books? They are medievel murder mystery. I’ve tried reading them myself but can’t get into them [although my Mother thought they were great]. Some of them were turned into a TV series, Brother Cadfael, with Dereck Jacoby. They were superb.

  • 3. Doug  |  May 8, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    Added to Doug’s Reading List. This one sounds awesome!

    One complaint: can you read paperbacks? 😉 Eh, I won’t get around to this one until it’s out in paperback anyway. Hehe.


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