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Dramatic,
Scary,
Confusing

4 reviews

Mistress of the Art of Death
by Ariana Franklin

Published: 2007-02-06
Hardcover : 400 pages
2 members reading this now
20 clubs reading this now
2 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 3 of 4 members
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 ...
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Introduction

(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 I 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 . .

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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

Why does Adelia reject Rowley Picot's proposal? Does she make the right decision?
What do you think of the justice of King Henry? Of the church?
by mbell7 (see profile) 09/20/13

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by RitaCordelia (see profile) 10/13/15

 
  "Fun historical mystery"by mbell7 (see profile) 09/20/13

The best historical fiction, to my mind, teaches you something about a time period, a people, or a culture while telling a really good story. This book does that in spades, giving such information about... (read more)

 
  "Mistress of the Art of Death"by crb13207 (see profile) 04/17/11

A very interesting mystery, it might start slow for some but picks up. you learn a lot about women in medieval times and what they were and were not allowed to do. If you like history you'll like this... (read more)

 
  "Mistress of the Art of Death"by janannette (see profile) 02/27/11

I had a good time reading this book. and, I think it gave our bookgroup a lot to talk about because all readers did not agree with my opinion or I theirs. I liked the authors writing style, thought her... (read more)

 
  "Not so hott"by margitolsen (see profile) 06/04/10

 
  "Italian doctor travels to medieval Cambridge to solve murder of four village children."by dstoor (see profile) 03/21/09

 
  "This story takes place in the 12 century in England and traces the journey of a female doctor who has been summoned by King Henry II to solve the mystery of the death of several youngsters."by DaniCaraveo (see profile) 03/20/09

When reading a book for discussion, it must contain new, offbeat, inspiring, controversial topics and this book did all of that. Therefore, the read itself began as a "task" and evolved to the level of... (read more)

 
  "Give this book time......"by ShanaM (see profile) 03/19/09

I found this book daunting at first, as did several other members of our book club. However, we perservered and ended up truly enjoying the story.
Very good discussion on many levels....
... (read more)

 
  "This book is a mystery, with a surprise ending. It also presents a microcosm of life in the 11th century. The character is strong, despite the general opinion at that time that women belonged at hom"by Doitl (see profile) 03/19/09

The book was excellent.

 
  "A female forensic anthropologist examines the death of children in medevil England."by christymg (see profile) 04/30/08

Slow to get into, but becomes more engrossing. Not really historical fiction, but probably fairly close. Can provide good conversation, but not an overall group favorite.

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