Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Review: Mistress of the Art of Death

I read Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin ages ago, so this may not be my best review, to be honest (though I did flip through my copy to refresh my memory). Since I read the sequel, The Serpent's Tale over the weekend, though, I thought I'd write about both of these really interesting mysteries.

Mistress of the Art of Death Description:
In medieval Cambridge, four children have been murdered. Wrongly accused of the crimes, a small community of Jews threatened by Catholic mobs is given sanctuary by Henry II. To assist i proving their innocence, he summons an expert in the science of deduction and the art of death. She is Adelia, a prodigy from the Medical School of Salerno, and an anomaly in a medical world, who is forced to conceal her identity and her purpose from England's grave superstitions and condemnation. One man willing to work with her is Sir Rowley Picot. His personal stake in the investigation makes him an invaluable ally - and in Adelia's eyes, a suspect as well. From navigating Cambridge's perilous river paths to penetrating the dark shadows of the Church, Adelia's investigations will not only reveal the secrets of the dead, but in time, the far more dangerous ones buried by the living.
It was my husband (who, as I believe I've mentioned before, is an anatomist) that first found this book. He was intrigued by the idea of a medieval medical examiner. When he read it in a few short days, which is a rarity, given his busy schedule, I knew that this was a winner. After reading it myself, I was not disappointed.

The story is pretty brutal - there's a lot of violence and the mystery is quite creepy to read about,so this book may not be for everyone. But the setting of the book is fascinating. Even though I'm not the anatomist in the family, I thought that reading about Adelia's work and process was one of the most interesting part of the book. I also thought that Adelia and the other characters were well developed, especially the dynamic between her and Rowley.

This book is an interesting mix of mystery and historical fiction - I recommend it to anyone who likes either genre.

Buy Mistress of the Art of Death on Amazon.
Visit the author's website

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