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Monday, April 7, 2014

Book Review: Mistress of the Art of Death

Mistress of the Art of Death (2008) by Ariana Franklin is an absorbing blend of historical fact and grisly fiction that will keep readers turning the pages. It is 1171 in Cambridge, England, and Henry II is extremely agitated—four children have been found murdered and mutilated and the townsfolk are blaming the Jews, who have sought shelter in the castle. King Henry, less concerned about the murderer than the tax revenue he is losing while the Jewish community languishes in the fortress, appeals to the king of Sicily to send him a master of the art of death, one who can examine the deceased and determine the cause of death.  

 Dr. Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, a mistress of this art, arrives with a returning group of pilgrims. Along with an eunuch escort named Mansur and Simon of Naples, a Jew with an affinity for detection, she must piece together the mystery of these gruesome crimes before the monster kills again.

Review by Peter Critchley, Vernon Branch

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