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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Review: Mistress of the Art of Death

Author: Ariana Franklin
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Mystery
Pub date: 2007
From Penguin:
In medieval Cambridge, England, Adelia, a female forensics expert, is summoned by King Henry II to investigate a series of gruesome murders that has wrongly implicated the Jewish population, yielding even more tragic results. As Adelia's investigation takes her behind the closed doors of the country's churches, the killer prepares to strike again.

My Thoughts:
It is mid-12th century and Adelia is a coroner/CSI dispatched to England to solve a series of mysterious murders. The fact that she is a woman only complicates the situation. Adelia feels more at ease examining the dead than having conversations with the living. Adelia is one of the best doctors from Salerno, Italy, where there is only moderate discrimination against women, as opposed to England, where people would accuse her outright of witchcraft and hang her for it. Adelia must be careful in all that she does on this trip to England.
Science and medicine are the devil's playground in the minds of commoners in England, not to mention the prevailing religion of the day.
Adelia is a wonderful and tenacious character who, despite various road blocks thrown up against her, seeks only the truth regardless of where it leads. When one character asks her if she will pray for the dead, Adelia gravely answers, "I am not here to pray for them. I have come to speak for them." And this is exactly what she does.
The author does a wonderful and skillful job in depicting medieval England, and the behaviors of both Church leaders and villagers. The medical and investigative aspects of the book were also written quite well. This interested me greatly since I work in the medical field.
All in all this was a good read and is sure to delight murder mystery fans. This book is the first in a series featuring Adelia Mistress of the Art of Death. I look forward to reading more of her adventures.
My Rating: 4/5


Jenners said...

This sounds pretty good actually! I know my parents would love this so I am going to forward the info on to them...or perhaps surprise them with a copy for a birthday!

Sadako said...

Love murder mysteries, esp. those set in other times. Very unique looking!!

Passages to the Past said...

Now I'm gonna have to pick this one up...I've been teetering on the edge until your review! I love forensics and history, so this one should be a keeper! Great review!

The Bookworm said...

sounds really good, and I like that cover too.
great review.

Jenny Girl said...

Thanks everyone!

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