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Mistress of the Art of Death (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Ariana Franklin

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,744None2,133 (3.96)521
Member:mccin68
Title:Mistress of the Art of Death
Authors:Ariana Franklin
Info:Berkley Trade (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 420 pages
Collections:audio book rental
Rating:****1/2
Tags:England, murder, 50 book challenge (2012), ABR, serial killer

Work details

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (2007)

12th century (100) Adelia Aguilar (20) audiobook (23) British (18) Cambridge (84) crime (47) Crusades (22) England (161) fiction (332) forensics (96) Henry II (71) historical (110) historical fiction (351) historical mystery (83) history (21) Jews (42) medieval (125) Middle Ages (52) murder (52) mystery (427) novel (26) own (21) read (35) serial killer (22) series (32) suspense (19) thriller (20) to-read (98) unread (26) women (21)
  1. 80
    Dissolution by C. J. Sansom (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Both these series are excellent mysteries set in well-drawn medieval England.
  2. 40
    Company of Liars by Karen Maitland (Anonymous user)
  3. 20
    Poison by Sara Poole (ltcl)
  4. 20
    Morality Play by Barry Unsworth (Anonymous user)
  5. 21
    My Lady Judge by Cora Harrison (gypsysmom)
    gypsysmom: Set in mediavel Ireland and has a woman in an unconventional job as the central character.
  6. 10
    Hangman Blind by Cassandra Clark (jm501)
  7. 10
    Déjà Dead by Kathy Reichs (Cecilturtle)
  8. 10
    The Canterbury Papers by Judith Koll Healey (starfishian, starfishian)
  9. 00
    (pmorris)
  10. 00
    Death and the Devil by Frank Schätzing (starfishian)
    starfishian: Available in English translation as 'Death and the Devil'.
  11. 22
    Outlander, Books 1-5 by Diana Gabaldon (ltcl)
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» See also 521 mentions

English (170)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (172)
Showing 1-5 of 170 (next | show all)
Very fun read. The author truly puts you in medieval Europe. ( )
  joyhclark | Mar 13, 2014 |
This historical mystery set in Henry II's England was the gift of a friend. Thank you, Kandice, you chose well. The central figure in the novel, Adelia Aguilar of Salerno, is a "Mistress of the Art of Death"--the closest thing the middle ages had to a medical examiner. And as unlikely as it might seem, a female doctor like Adelia is not a politically correct anachronism, was not unique--although she comes from perhaps the only place in the world that could have produced her. For from the 11th to the 13th Century the Schola Medica Salernitana in Salerno was the most celebrated center of medical learning in the Western world--and it taught and graduated both men and women. So Adelia isn't made of whole cloth. Yes, there were and are strong women in every age and position in society. As one friend put it, making them credible is all a matter of the right context--and I think Franklin gives her that.

The book is a great blend of historical fiction, mystery and romance. I think it's strongest in the first category though. The romance and mystery is satisfying enough, but I don't think by themselves would make me want to read beyond the first book. I didn't think the romance was really developed enough. But it at least is no "insta-romance" and after all it's not the book's focus. In terms of the mystery--well, I think the main culprit was far too obvious, far too early on. Even if there was one surprising aspect to the mystery, and one that did fit the clues. The style is strong in some respects. My one complaint was the head-hopping. This isn't really omniscient--it doesn't have the overarching narrative structure and voice for that--it just comes across as sloppy third person limited, and if the story weren't strong in other ways, that might be a dealbreaker. But I grew very fond of the characters in the course of the book, and Franklin's way with the setting was beguiling. She's great at bringing the middle ages to life in all its misogynistic, anti-Semitic, superstitious glory--but showing some of the complexity that makes it perhaps not so easy to put down as simply barbarous, with the glints of humanity here and there. Maybe at that not so different from our own age in that respect.

Franklin's medieval England is as credible, and just as involving, as Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael series of mysteries. This is a series too, and I'm eager to spend more time in this world. Although, alas, it will be a brief tour. There are only four books, and since Franklin died in 2011, there will be no more of them. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Mar 8, 2014 |
My fear of boring historical novels stopped me from reading this book earlier. I should not have waited. It was a fast moving story, a great mystery that had me guessing until the last minute. I had to cover the words below where I was reading to stop myself from scanning the text to find the name of the killer during the climax.

There were plenty of racial undertones which are expected in an accurate depiction of medieval England. I was not, however, expecting the women's lib movement. If it turned out Adelia was from the future I would not have been surprised. I can't tell if something like this was true for the times (female dr from Italy) It makes me want to do some research to find the truth.

In any case this was a great book. If I didn't have to suspend my disbelief at Adelia and the majority of the men's reactions and interactions I would have given this book 5 stars. I will be reading the next in the series. ( )
  djenczyk | Feb 6, 2014 |
Pretty good historical fiction. If you liked the Labyrinth by Kate Mosse, you'd enjoy this. ( )
  rfewell | Feb 5, 2014 |
Like CSI but set in 12th century Britain, with an added dash of feminism. This was a great read, if a little gory and graphic in places. I will add Adelia to my list of favourite characters. ( )
  cathymoore | Jan 12, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 170 (next | show all)
What he gets is Adelia Aguilar, a doctor whose independent mind and arrogant manner are as unorthodox as her profession. Adelia is a delight and her spirited efforts to stop the killings, while tending to the sick, making friends and finding romance, add to our appreciation of her forensic skills. But the lonely figure who truly stands out in Franklin’s vibrant tapestry of medieval life is King Henry — an enlightened monarch condemned to live in dark times.
 

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ariana Franklinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Đurić, MilanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nowak-Kreyer, MaciejTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pasetti, Maria ClaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosenbloom, MiriamCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sønsteng, GryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schiøtt, LeneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shaleṿ, AyalahTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stålmarck, YlvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Timmermann, KlausTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wasel, UlrikeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Yoshizawa, YasukoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Helen Heller,
mistress of the art of thrillers
First words
Here they come. From down the road we can hear harness jingling and see dust rising into the warm spring sky.
Quotations
Love, however doomed, had the capacity to attach buoys to the soul.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Ariana Franklin is the pen name of Diana Norman.
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Book description
In medieval Cambridge, four children have been murdered. The Catholic townsfolk blame their Jewish neighbors, so to save them from the rioting mob, the Cambridge Jews are placed under the protection of the king. Henry II is no friend of the Jews -- or anyone, really -- but he believes in law and order, and he desperately need the taxes and loans he receives from Jewish merchants. Hoping scientific investigation will help catch the true killer, Henry calls on his cousin the King of Sicily, whose subjects include the best medical experts in Europe, to send a forensics specialist. The Italian doctor chosen for the task is a young prodigy from the University of Salerno, an expert in the science of anatomy and the art of detection. Her name is Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar: the king has been sent a "mistress of the art of death." In the backward and superstitious country that is England, Adelia faces danger at every turn. As she examines the victims and retraces their last steps, she must conceal her true identity in order to avoid accusations of witchcraft. Along the way, she's assisted by one of the king's tax collectors, Sir Rowley Picot, a man with a personal stake in the investigation. A former Crusader knight, Rowley may be either a much-needed friend or an ally of the fiend they seek. As Adelia's investigation takes her along 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... (978-0-399-15414-0)
Haiku summary
Mistress of the art
Of death helps to uncover
Cambridge child killer.
(passion4reading)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425219259, Paperback)

The national bestselling hit hailed by the New York Times as a "vibrant medieval mystery...[it] outdoes the competition."

In medieval Cambridge, England, Adelia, a female forensics expert, is summoned by King Henry II to investigate a series of gruesome murders that has wrongly implicated the Jewish population, yielding even more tragic results. As Adelia's investigation takes her behind the closed doors of the country's churches, the killer prepares to strike again.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:13 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Set in medieval England, a young Italian doctor, Adelia, must solve the mysterious murders of four children.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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