Book Recommendation: Mistress of the Art of Death by Arianna Franklin


Luckily, I took a few paperback books with me, which help fill the time as I wait for my internet to be installed in my apartment (and I love reading). One of the books I took with me was Mistress of the Art of Death by Arianna Franklin, a historical mystery novel set during the 12th century. And, I think it’s worth a shout-out.

Adelia, a female medical doctor from Solerno, has the dubious privilege of being a “doctor for corpses”, and also knowing English, Hebrew, Latin, and Arabic. As a result, she’s “voluntold” to go to Cambridge, England, where someone is killing children and the Jewish population is being blamed. The King of England (Henry II) is worried that if the mob mentality takes over, all the Jews will be killed and then which minority will be left to overly tax? Adelia, along with her companions in this medieval CSI mystery, Simon and Mansur, head to Cambridge to catch a killer.

As someone who is a little bored of the Victorian and Regency periods (why does everyone think they’re so awesome?) in books, this was a welcome change. And sure, Mistress of the Art of Death has quite a few anachronisms (there’s quite a lot of books floating around for the Medieval times, for example, as well as the very fact that Adelia is an accredited female doctor from Solerno), but the mystery is engaging and page-turning. I also enjoyed the portrayal of Medieval England, since the author did try to keep things historically accurate. It served to remind me of, and be thankful for, my modern upbringing. Hygiene, indoor plumbing, toilets! Huzzah!

The author does a good job of making you care for the characters, as well, so when their lives are in danger (which happens a lot, considering this is before there was a concept of law enforcement), you want to know what happens.

One thing I didn’t like was the romance subplot, which is a shame. Putting aside the asshole tendencies of the hero (I’ll chalk it up to “a product of his time”), the author sometimes got a little purple prose-y for me when describing the heroine’s feelings and thoughts once she falls for the asshole hero.

Luckily, the main plotline is definitely the mystery of who is killing the children of Cambridge.

All-in-all, I recommend it for anyone who likes historical mysteries with strong-willed female heroines.

Now onto the next book in my pile, Good Night, Mr. Holmes (Irene Adler Adventures).

And someday, my internet will come. It came, it saw, and it conquered. Can you tell I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago and then let it languish?

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