Bob Cannon
February 02, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

Mistress of the Art of Death

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Ariana Franklin
publisher
Putnam
genre
Mystery and Thriller, Fiction

We gave it a B+

In the 12th-century Cambridge of Ariana Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Death, four children are murdered, and the locals blame rich Jews. Since King Henry II depends on their tax income, Salerno-trained doctor Adelia Aguilar is called to investigate at a time when pathologists — much less female ones — are exceedingly rare. What follows is an episode of CSI: Middle Ages: Adelia uncovers forensic clues while fighting the backward beliefs of church officials and the anti-Semitic citizenry. Franklin’s amusing period details (herbal remedies, Pythonesque nuns, a colorful string of medieval curses) turn a gory mystery into a bloody good show.

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