Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In 1171, Simon Menahem of Naples, Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, and Adelia's servant Mansur are summoned from their homes in sunny Salerno to the chilly clime of Cambridge, England, to uncover the monster who has brutally murdered four small children, all of whose deaths have been blamed on the town's Jewish population. King Henry II is displeased to have lost so much revenue since the Jews have been sequestered in the sheriff's castle for protection for the past year, and he has asked his cousin to send experts. Simon is the King of Sicily's chief investigator, and Adelia is Salerno's top "doctor of death" (the medieval equivalent of a forensic pathologist). The two friends must fight prejudice and suspicion to solve the crimes before the killer takes any more lives, including their own.
Why is it often so much more difficult to review a really good book? I've been working on this review on and off for nearly a week, and all I can think of is, "It's really good. If you like historical mysteries with well-written characters, you'll love this book. Don't let the odd Greek-chorus-like opening and closing put you off. Those parts don't last very long, thankfully." I don't know what else to say that doesn't give anything away.
For readers' advisors: character, story, and setting doorways. Lots of historically based swearing. Not a cozy mystery because of the suspense and the horrific damage done to the children. Some nudity and one mild (and improbable, given the injuries sustained just prior) sex scene.
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