Mistress of the Art of Death
March 31, 2011
Title: Mistress of the Art of Death..
By: Ariana Franklin
In twelfth century Cambridge, tensions are high between the local townsfolk and the Jewish population, suspected of murdering and disfiguring four children. King Henry II has requested aid of an expert in reading the dead from the Salerno School of Medicine in Italy. He is attempting to shelter the Jews, but is mostly worried about the tax revenue they bring him. Dr. Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, Adelia for short, finds herself with a complicated mystery to solve -- hampered by the fact that no one expects the learned doctor to be a woman.
Ariana Franklin's story is a pleasing combination of history and mystery. The sleuth Adelia's attitudes may be surprisingly modern, but it helps to bridge the gap between the contemporary reader and the medieval setting. A series of sequels detail the further investigations of this "doctor to the dead": The Serpent's Tale, Grave Goods, and A Murderous Procession.