Dec 09

Mistress of the Art of Death

Mistress of the Art of Death

by Ariana Franklin


Picture 2 Fiction / Murder Mystery / Thriller
First Published in 2007
Publisher: Bantam Books
Set in: 1171, Cambridge, England
Winner of the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award

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Book Synopsis:

Cambridge, England, 1171.

A gruesome murder has taken place. The victim is a child and other children have disappeared. King Henry wants the killer found, as it is the Jews, who supply the King with much of his revenue, who have been accused by enraged townspeople for the child murders.

Simon of Naples a well-known investigator has been recruited, along with a young woman and an Arab. The young woman, Adelia Aguilar, is one of the rare female doctors of the 12th Century. She specializes in the examination of dead bodies. As a mistress in the art of death, she must keep her skill a secret for fear of being charged as witch.

The inquiry takes Adelia from castle to convent, and into the heart of medieval Cambridge. She makes friends and even chances upon love. However, her investigation attracts the attention of a killer who is willing to strike again.

bunnyMy Book Review:

I enjoyed reading this murder mystery. The plot is made more interesting because it is set in the 12th Century and because it won a historical award, I trusted its accuracy. The author does note however that she was somewhat anachronistic in her writing to make it more accessible for readers. For example, she used the present name Cambridge, though it was called Grantebridge until the 14th Century.

So if you’re worried about this novel set way back in the 12th Century being archaic and difficult to read, you’ll be in for a neat surprise. Ariana Franklin has done a marvelous job in making this book extremely accessible to modern readers, whilst still keeping the time period vivid.

In this novel we follow our ‘mistress of death’, Adelia (a very down to earth and intelligent lady), to uncover a brutal and elusive killer of children. The plot is a tad slow for a short while in the middle, but once you get past that, much happens that is both exciting and frightening. .

Adelia’s job is to root out the killer, but she is hindered by being female, even worse, she is a foreign female doctor. She has to tread carefully, because the killer could be anyone – the prior, the prioress, the tax collector, the crusader, the merchant, the hunter, the list goes on….


x Julie

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