Monday, November 29, 2010

mistress of the art of death

I find the best treasures in our donation piles at the library. A couple of weeks ago, a cover featuring a woman standing over a skull caught my eye.  When I realized it was a medieval mystery, the book came home with me.  Since then I've learned this title is the first in a series.  Of course our library doesn't own the series, but our neighboring town's library does and I've already requested the second book be sent over.

Ariana Franklin's heroine is a female doctor, a foundling raised by a Jewish doctor and his Christian wife. Adelia, trained at her father's side, becomes quite adept at 'reading' the dead.  Medieval forensics was based mostly on observations and intuition, but Adelia shows us that a whole lot can be told with careful looking.  She is sent from Sicily by King William to Henry II's England to help solve a string of murders, the victims all children in Cambridge.  Of course the Jews have been blamed and as the entire town's Jewish population is hiding behind the castle walls, their money making enterprises have now put a major crimp in the financial dealings of that region. Hence the king's interest and his request to borrow a 'death reader' from the medical school in Salerno.

Franklin does a great job with providing an interesting assortment of characters, some wonderful settings and plenty of action.

Well done.

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