Date: September 2003
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Mystery / Historical / medieval
Mary Ellen (M.E.) Cooper
Notes: Reviewer, M.E. Cooper is the author of an Italian
Renaissance mystery series (Key Deceptions) and a Civil
War mystery series (Uncivil Death).
Borgia and the Mother of Poisons
Borgia and the Mother of Poisons by Roberta Gellis is a Renaissance
mystery. Aconite, or monkshood, is known as the mother ofpoisons.
Lucrezia is a beautiful, twice-widowed young woman who istired of
being the target of whispers and rumors in Rome. When she is married
off to the heir of the Duke of Ferrara, she is eager to start a
new life among people who are more congenial to her. She has not
been there long when a young woman, Donna Bianca, is poisoned, and
suspicion falls on Lucrezia, although she
could not have done it. Believing she must clear her name from suspicion,
Lucrezia determines to find the real killer.
duke has a masked costume ball with all the court people in attendance.
The descriptions of clothing and the colorful event are described
in accurate detail. Suddenly Palagio, the young man Lucrezia suspected
of knowing more about the poisoner than he admitted, is stabbed
to death before the entire crowd. The killer, masked but dressed
as the duke's younger son, Sigismundo, flees through a palace window
while everyone is frozen in a state of shock.
duke, followed by the crowd, rushes to Sigismundo's quarters where
he is peacefully discussing ideas with Leonardo da Vinci, who affirms
Sigismundo has not left the room.
follows her instincts to unveil the murderer in an exciting climax.
The duke is pleased and mentions that if there should be another
murder in the palace he would count on Lucrezia to solve it, leaving
the reader to hope there will be a second book in the series.