Archive for 'Franklin, Ariana'
Mistress of the Art of Death is set in Cambridge, England in 1171. Someone there has been torturing and murdering children and the local Jewish population has been blamed. All of the local Jews are hiding in the castle from the mob that murdered two of their community after the last murder was discovered. This situation has come to the attention of King Henry II, who is losing tax revenue and wants the murders solved so things can return to normal. So he requests the loan of a Master of the Art of Death (an early pathologist) from the King of Sicily â€“ but the master of the medical school sends a woman instead of the expected man.
Adelia and her companions travel in secret to Cambridge because they fear she will be labeled a witch if the locals find out who she is and what she does. They fall in with a group returning from a pilgrimage to Canterbury and befriend a local Prior who helps set them up in town and gives them access to the people they need to see to conduct their investigation into the gruesome deaths.
Franklin has incorporated a real murder into this book and uses historical events and characters to frame the story, but the mystery is carried by fictional characters. There are sections of the book that I thought were very well crafted and believable, but the marriage of historical material and modern plot tastes is a little rocky, particularly at the end, which doesnâ€™t seem to quite mesh with the rest of the book.
Which is not to say that I didnâ€™t enjoy the book. I tend to dislike books in which children are the victims, and the descriptions of the tortures the children endured may keep some from finishing this book, but the plot did capture and hold my attention.
Favorite character? Simon of Naples, a spy and companion of Adelia. Did I guess it? No. Will I read another? Perhaps. This could turn out to be a series.
Mystery Book Reviews by Liz at http://reviewedbyliz.com Â©2007