Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (Book Review)

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (Book Review)Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Series: Mistress of the Art of Death #1
Published by: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 384
My Rating:
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A chilling, mesmerizing novel that combines the best of modern forensic thrillers with the detail and drama of historical fiction. In medieval Cambridge, England, four children have been murdered. The crimes are immediately blamed on the town's Jewish community, taken as evidence that Jews sacrifice Christian children in blasphemous ceremonies. To save them from the rioting mob, the king places the Cambridge Jews under his protection and hides them in a castle fortress. King Henry II is no friend of the Jews-or anyone, really-but he is invested in their fate. Without the taxes received from Jewish merchants, his treasuries would go bankrupt. Hoping scientific investigation will exonerate the Jews, Henry calls on his cousin the King of Sicily-whose subjects include the best medical experts in Europe-and asks for his finest "master of the art of death," an early version of the medical examiner. The Italian doctor chosen for the task is a young prodigy from the University of Salerno. But her name is Adelia-the king has been sent a "mistress" of the art of death. Adelia and her companions-Simon, a Jew, and Mansur, a Moor-travel to England to unravel the mystery of the Cambridge murders, which turn out to be the work of a serial killer, most likely one who has been on Crusade with the king. In a backward and superstitious country like England, Adelia must conceal her true identity as a doctor in order to avoid accusations of witchcraft. Along the way, she is assisted by Sir Rowley Picot, one of the king's tax collectors, a man with a personal stake in the investigation. Rowley may be a needed friend, or the fiend for whom they are searching. As Adelia's investigation takes her into Cambridge's shadowy river paths and behind the closed doors of its churches and nunneries, the hunt intensifies and the killer prepares to strike again . .


This book was fantastic from cover to cover. It’s the Medieval times murder mystery. When four children are murdered it prompts an investigation in the town of Cambridge and the Jews are being accused of child sacrifice. They are killed in a pretty gruesome way but it wasn’t described in such a way that it turned me off at all.

The primary character, Adelia, is a coroner whose CSI Forensic methods are unheard of in Medieval Cambridge. There is a great cast of supporting characters and light overtones of a fun, but unlikely, romance. The deeper the story evolved the more suspects I developed and I had one character I immediately suspected, but then dismissed, then sort of suspected him again, then dismissed him again. The suspense was great.

The mystery, the research, the intrigue and the suspense all created and exceptionally well-written novel. It was beautifully and wonderfully told and it was so much fun. I couldn’t wait to read it every night to try and figure out just who exactly the murderer was, what his (or her? 😉 motivations were and how they were going to bust the case wide open.

The ending of the book, the church, the case, the conclusion it all left me stunned and wanting another book from Ariana Franklin. Very, very well done!

Ashley LaMar
Ashley bounces between Atlanta, GA + Charleston, WV with her husband and two small dogs for life and work. If she’s not writing or blogging, she can usually be found cooking, reading, or watching baseball. Follow her on Twitter @ashleyfromfbl
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