Sunday, August 23, 2009

Book Review: Mistress of the Art of Death

Title: Mistress of the Art of Death
Author: Ariana Franklin
Rating: *****
Tags: mystery, series, historical mystery, women, doctor, henry ii, england

I have a new favorite series. Have just read this book and its sequel and am totally blown away by them. Absolutely amazing books.

This first book in the series opens with the disappearance of four children in Cambridge, England. The body of one is found horribly mutilated. The Jews in the town are blamed and two of them killed. Henry II, king of England, is concerned. The Jews pay a large part of his tax revenues and loan money for many projects. He wants the killer identified and quickly. He sends to his friend the King of Sicily for his investigator, Simon (also a Jew), and asks that he send also a doctor of forensic medicine, or, as it was known, a Master of Death. He is sent Simon, a Mistress of the Art of Death, and her Saracen eunuch protector.

Adelia was abandoned by her parents as an infant on Mt. Vesuvius. She was found and adopted by a man and wife, both doctors, in Salerno, the center of the world's medical knowledge, which did not scorn to train women as doctors. Her father was a Master of Death and so she became one as well.

Shortly after the odd trio arrives in England the corpses of the three missing children are found, also savagely mutilated. Adelia indeed does find clues from the pitiful remains, and the investigation begins to take shape. Meanwhile one of the King's tax collectors keeps insinuating himself into the investigation. Is he working for the king, or a suspect?

The book has everything I look for. Great, complex, interesting characters, nicely developed plots, and a brilliant sense of time and place.

Can you guess that I highly recommend it?

Publication Putnam's (2007), Edition: 1st Edition, 1st Printing, Hardcover
Publication date 2007

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