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Mistress of the Art of Death (Mistress of the Art of Death, Bk 1)
Mistress of the Art of Death - Mistress of the Art of Death, Bk 1 Author:Ariana Franklin A chilling, mesmerizing novel that combines the best of modern forensic thrillers with the detail and drama of historical fiction. In medieval Cambridge, England, four children have been murdered. The crimes are immediately blamed on the town's Jewish community, taken as evidence that Jews sacrifice Christian children in blasphemous ceremoni... more »es. To save them from the rioting mob, the king places the Cambridge Jews under his protection and hides them in a castle fortress. King Henry I is no friend of the Jews-or anyone, really-but he is invested in their fate. Without the taxes received from Jewish merchants, his treasuries would go bankrupt. Hoping scientific investigation will exonerate the Jews, Henry calls on his cousin the King of Sicily-whose subjects include the best medical experts in Europe-and asks for his finest "master of the art of death," an early version of the medical examiner. The Italian doctor chosen for the task is a young prodigy from the University of Salerno. But her name is Adelia-the king has been sent a mistress of the art of death. Adelia and her companions-Simon, a Jew, and Mansur, a Moor-travel to England to unravel the mystery of the Cambridge murders, which turn out to be the work of a serial killer, most likely one who has been on Crusade with the king. In a backward and superstitious country like England, Adelia must conceal her true identity as a doctor in order to avoid accusations of witchcraft. Along the way, she is assisted by Sir Rowley Picot, one of the king's tax collectors, a man with a personal stake in the investigation. Rowley may be a needed friend, or the fiend for whom they are searching. As Adelia's investigation takes her into Cambridge's shadowy river paths and behind the closed doors of its churches and nunneries, the hunt intensifies and the killer prepares to strike again . .« less
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This was a difficult book to read because the killer in this mystery sexually tortures and murders children. Had I known that the book contained such scenes, I would not have read it. However it was almost impossible to put down, and the main characters (not the killer) and setting were so interesting that, in spite of myself, I immediately started reading the sequel. If you can get past the the horrific evil committed by the serial killer in the novel, and you like mysteries and/or historical novels, then I would recommend it.
I believe this is the first in a new series of historical mysteries featuring Adelia, a female physician trained at Salerno, where such things as autopsies and female doctors were allowed. She is sent by the King of Sicily to investigate the serial murders of several children in Cambridge UK in the year 1137 along with two companions--Simon, an expert investigator, and Mansur, a large Arab man who poses as the doctor with Adelia as his assistant--which would have been acceptable in England at that time. Henry II has also commissioned one of his tax collectors to find the murderer before the English people rise up and demand that all Jews be expelled from England, as they are presently being blamed for the deaths. King Henry needs the Jews' income on his tax rolls and thus can't let that happen. Adelia uses crude forensic techniques to discover clues and soon the suspect list is narrowed down. What she doesn't count on is being attracted to one of her suspects--she, avowed to celibacy, sworn to be a doctor first and foremost above all. While the mystery itself wasn't too hard to figure out, certain aspects of it were surprising. I really enjoyed this book, which is set my favorite time period, and I already feel like I know many of the characters--Adelia as well as the peripheral characters--and do hope it becomes a series!
Sue P. (loves2bake) reviewed Mistress of the Art of Death (Mistress of the Art of Death, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 6
This is a wonderfully woven tale of mystery and intrigue full of 12th century culture: churches, castles, and chauvinism. Historical fiction buffs and fans of Diana Gabaldon's books will really like this one!
Linda K. (lkenn1410) reviewed Mistress of the Art of Death (Mistress of the Art of Death, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 6
Page turning historical fiction. Children are being brutally murdered in Cambridge, England during the reign of Henry II. Adriane, a "doctor of the the dead", is sent by the King of Sicily to investigate and try to solve themurders. She is accompanied by a male Jew and a male Muslim, since as a woman she cannot travel alone. Additionally, the Muslim must pose as the doctor, since the Church does not recognize female doctors. Many twists and turns. Can be graphically violent in places.
Mistress of the Art of Death is a gripping story of a serial murderer in Medieval England. Think CSI meets Kay Scarpetta during the crusades.
Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar is the mistress of the art of death; an early day forensic scientist. Educated by her father at the medical school in Salerno Adelia is sent by the King of Sicily to aid his cousin Henry II in finding out who is killing the children of Cambridge. Along with Simon of Naples, a âspyâ and Mansur, an Arab eunuch who acts as her bodyguard, it's their job to find a murderer before he kills again.
This is a well written and well plotted thriller with loads of historical information on early forensics and medieval life in general. I was very entertained and I learned a lot too.