Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin

In Cambridge a child has been hideously murdered and other children have disappeared. The Jews, made scapegoats by the all-powerful Christian clergy, have been forced to retreat into the castle to avoid slaughter by angry townspeople. Henry, King of England, is displeased. The Jews provide a large part of his revenue and therefore the real killer must be found, and quickly. A renowned investigator, Simon of Naples, is recruited and he arrives in town from the continent accompanied by an Arab and a young woman, Adelia Aguilar. There are few female doctors in twelfth-century Europe, but Adelia is one of them, having qualified at the great School of Medicine in Salerno. What’s more, her speciality is the study of corpses; she is, in fact, a mistress of the art of death, a skill that must be concealed in case she’s accused of witchcraft. Adelia’s investigation takes her deep into Cambridge, its castle and convents and in a medieval city teeming with life she makes friends and even finds romance. And, fatally, attracts the attention of a murderer who is prepared to kill again.

My take: 2.5 looks
I didn't dislike it enough to be two stars, but not good enough to be three. It just wasn't my thing. It's excellent writing, but I found it to be a bit verbose. Some readers love that level of detail, but I need the story to move forward a little more than this one did. By the time the killer was revealed, I didn't even care. I was just glad it was over.

The heroine is very compelling: smart, witty, bold and yet very feminine. The story setting in the 1100s is also a compelling part of the story. All of the elements were here...I just didn't connect.

Not recommended.

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