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Mistress of the Art of Death

by Ariana Franklin

      Somebody is killing the children of Cambridge -horribly and randomly. Fingers are pointed at the Jews, so to prevent mass murder, they are incarcerated in the castle. Henry II has had his hands full already that year with Thomas ŗ Becket, so the king wants this sorted out quickly and the Jews freed - or who will lend him money? Courtesy of the King of Sicily, three investigators are dispatched. One is a Jew, one a Muslim and one - even more controversially - is a forensics expert and a woman...

There is no shortage of historical whodunits, but every now and again - not often enough perhaps - I come upon one that is a real class act, and this is one such. It is not a short book, taking its time lovingly over descriptions of everything, establishing relationships, surprising with developments, and occasionally delighting with humor and a sense of humanity. Adelia makes a delightfully common sense heroine, cutting through the cant and coming up with answers, with courage and sensibility. Also starring are a cast of interesting characters, some stereotypical, others refreshingly original. I didnít guess whodunit (although I had my suspicions) but whether you do or not, this is a book to be savored and read slowly as there is so much in it beside a murder mystery to enjoy. The first in a new series, I await book two with baited breath. One of this yearís top ten books.

The Book

Bantam Press (Transworld UK)
May 2007
Historical Crime - 1171, Cambridge, England
More at US|| UK
NOTE: Gory

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2007
© 2006