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.
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.
If you like historical fiction, forensics, murder and well written characters, you will enjoy Ariana Franklin's "Mistress of the Art of Death". From the first words to the final page, this book never lost my attention. The characters are smart and well rounded and it was easy to imagine them off the page. The protagonist is strong, smart and feisty while the surrounding players are varied and full of life. Right to the end this who-dun-it, will keep your attention and leave you wanting more.
This book takes the unique perspective of Adelia, a female doctor in the Middle Ages (from Salerno, Italy where women were allowed to practice medicine) and throws her and her two friends into a crime scene in a small town in England where her job would be seen as witchcraft or worse. She is a mistress of the art of death, meaning that she can analyze a corpse and figure out the cause of death. Her Muslim body guard posses as the real doctor and she as his translator, with their investigator colleague Simon posing as another assistant, so that they can go about their business without drawing too much attention to themselves (or at least the best they can being three strangers in a small town). Their job is to figure out who is brutally killing children in order to exonerate the town's Jewish population, which has since been held captive in a castle and still blamed even as murders keep occurring after their captivity started. The king's tax collector Sir Rowley Picot serves as a help to their investigation, but is simultaneously Adelia's prime suspect.
After hearing so many wonderful things about this book, I really wanted to like it more than I did. Don't get me wrong, it is a very good story with many different twists to keep you guessing at "whodunit" until the very end. However, I personally had a hard time with the author's writing style. It took quite a while for me to get used to how the point of view could jump repeatedly between characters, often in the same paragraph without any real warning! It didn't help that there were a lot of names and characters thrown at you at the every beginning, and some of them don't come back into play until later in the story. Mystery isn't my usual genre and I've been sick all week, which may have compounded my difficulty in reading it, but still, I was expecting to enjoy this story more than I actually did. I've heard there are two sequels, but I'm debating if I should read them or not. I am curious to find out what happens to Adelia and her friends, but I'm not sure I enjoyed this book that much to be that overly concerned.