Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mistress of the Art of Death

The second book by Ariana Franklin, Mistress of the Art of Death, will entice both fans of historical fiction and forensic mysteries. Set in medieval Cambridge, four young children have been murdered. When the Catholic majority of the townsfolk blame the Jewish minority, a riot causes death and thereafter protection of the Jews by King Henry II. Realizing that unless the Jews can return to their livelihoods, he will not get taxes from them, Henry sends to his cousin, the King of Sicily for help to catch the true killer.

The doctor chosen to come investigate will remind readers of a medieval medical examiner such as Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Being a female doctor in the forward thinking town of Salerno is rare enough, but in a superstitious country such as England, it is simply dangerous. Adelia must conceal her true identity as she examines the victims and retraces their last moments, for fear of being accused of witchcraft.

The cast of characters along the way is rich and varied, whether Arab, Jew or Christian, and Adelia is never quite certain whether those she encounters will be revealed as friend or foe. Twists and turns abound, and the nearer she comes to finding the killer, the more danger she finds herself in.


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