Customer Reviews for

Mistress of the Art of Death (Mistress of the Art of Death Series #1)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 49 review with 4 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted May 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    CSI Meets Europe in the 13th Century!

    Mistress of the Art of Death is a delightful historical novel! Called north from the Mediterranean to solve a delicate series of child murders in the England of Henry II, the unique characters face bias directed at themselves (an educated woman is fine in Renaissance Italy, but in the more barbaric North? and she's traveling with an Italian and a Muslim!) as well as the bias directed at the Jews who were blamed for the murders!

    The case is interesting, the lead character uses alchemy and botany training to be the "CSI" on the case to 'talk to the dead' and learn their stories to solve the murders. But the true strength of the book lies in historical feel of the period, personal relationships, and the portrayal of the King - the author has truly nailed Henry II!

    This is the first in a series. I've loved the first two and am getting ready to start the third. Read Mistress of the Art of Death to escape, to visit a legitimate historical time in European history, or to follow the criminal case from beginning to end, but read it!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Intriguing Mystery

    Besides the fact that it is hard to imagine a female doctor who studied corpses in the 1100's......I enjoyed the book. The author has a unique way of writing and often has incomplete sentence structure. I was not expecting the love story near the end since the heroine is fiercely independent and dedicated to her calling. I am interested enough in the characters to pursue book #2.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    History + Mystery = Good Read

    I really enjoyed this book and the author's style of writing. Kept my interest from beginning to end. Adelia is a standout in a cast of memorable characters, and I look forward to more stories featuring them. Just enough mixture of history, mystery and romance and none of the excess detail that some writers pack their books with that can take away from the central story. Can't wait to read about Adelia's next "case."

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2008

    A good read

    Historical fiction with a twist. And whether it is realistic or not is not the issue. Other reviewers have said, this would never have happened. But this book is about 'what if it did'. This work shows historical knowledge of the times and brings a 21st century mentality to it. A great read and a page turner! If you like history and fiction-just read and enjoy without over analyzing. You won't be disappointed!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 7, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin

    The time is 1171 England.

    The King is Henry II.

    Problem number one is that four children have been brutally murdered and the Catholic townsfolk are blaming the Cambridge Jews.

    Problem number two is possible finanicial ruin for Henry's country. The taxes he receives from Jewish merchants helps England prosper and with the Catholic's out for blood Henry must sequester the entire Jewish population within the castle walls for their safety.

    The solution is Adelia Aguilar. Henry II calls upon his cousin the King of Sicily to send his finest "master of the art of death," the earliest form of a medical examiner to rid his country of this heinous killer.

    Adelia is a student at the University of Salerno. Highly capable, strongly independent, frustratedly stubborn, and fighting not to show any vulnerability she is thrust into a backward country where she has to hide her identity for fear of being persecuted as a "witch."

    Accompanying her is her eunoch bodyguard and a Jew from Naples. During their investigation the team meets many possible suspects and a few allies.

    This book is full of historic information. There are twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat. There are disturbing images about the manner of death these children faced. There is a touch of romance and a conclusion that will make you say "you go girl."

    If you like historical fiction, mysteries, don't mind a little romance, and your not too squeamish about murders involving children- this is the one for you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 24, 2009

    Slightly slow start but fun read!

    We read this for a book club and while it was a little slow to start, I enjoyed it very much after about the first third and am looking forward to reading her next two. It took a little suspension of reality to believe some of the medical aspects, although in general it was well done and there have been many instances of knowledge being lost and then relearned so while it's stretching my limits of belief, it was not enough to dampen my enjoyment of the story.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 29, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I was completely unaware of how long Forensic Pathology has bee

    I was completely unaware of how long Forensic Pathology has been an active, recognized profession. Until I read this book, I thought this profession was less than 100 years old (according to Wikipedia, Forensic Pathology was recognized as a profession in the U.S. in 1959). I am always delighted to learn new things and this book informed me that there were practitioners of this discipline in the twelfth century.
    Ms. Franklin has discovered a fresh, interesting basis for a detective series in Mistress of the Art of Death. To fully enjoy this read, the reader must readily disbelieve that: 1) there were people doing autopsies when death (and pain) was part of God’s plan and to question “God’s design” was to be put to death as a heretic and 2) the world’s leading expert in this field was a woman, when women were seen as property, unless they were healers, then they were usually seen as witches and put to death. Once that threshold has been crossed, the action becomes plausible and quite the good story unfolds.
    When the children of Cambridgeshire begin to go missing, then turn up brutally killed and those being held responsible are the very wealthy (and huge tax base) Jewish community (being held captive in the King’s property), King Henry II must find who is responsible for the murders before his kingdom goes bankrupt. He requests his cousin, and King of Sicily, to send him “the finest master of the art of death” to achieve this goal. Enter Adelia, daughter of respected physicians at the University of Salerno and the best person at “talking to the dead” in the known world. Disguised as a physician’s helper (women, it was believed, were incapable of being doctors) she begins the investigation of the deaths of the children.
    The early portion of the book is slow. Introducing the characters, setting the scene, bringing the reader into the culture of 1170 England all are meticulously undertaken. Once the reader is clear “who is what, where and how,” the actual mystery takes center stage. The story is graphic in its description of the crimes (graphic enough to give me the willies) and bars no detail in making the smells, tastes and scenes of the river town of Cambridgeshire a reality. This is not a book to be read by or to children, aside from the premise of children being murdered, the specifics included of the crimes are far to horrific for many adults so are out of bounds for children. The only detractor I found in this work was the obvious 20th Century concepts that were common in the life of Adelia. The history of women was discarded to make this story and proved it to be a work of fiction, the mentioning of historical events notwithstanding.
    This is the first in a series (I possess the next two) so it will be interesting to see how Adelia fares in the ensuing mysteries England has to offer. She would like to return to Salerno, but Henry II has need for her services. It seems taxes in the Twelfth Century dictated one’s life, too. Some things never change.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2012

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  • Posted January 22, 2012

    Wonderfully written historical fiction/crime thriller

    I have been looking for a well written historical fiction novel for a while, and a friend recommended this. Not only is it a well written historical fiction novel, but it's also a crime thriller (bonus!). Centered around a strong female character the writing is vivid and draws the reader into its world. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone, and look forward to reading the next Ariana Franklin novel!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    A fine alternative for Catherine LeVendeur fans

    It started with Brother Cadfael. I fell in love with mysteries set in the time of the Crusades. Ariana Franklin does a fine job of adding a new twist, a female forensic doctor in the middle ages. Love it.

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  • Posted June 8, 2009

    Great Book

    This was a great read. I highly recommend the series.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2009

    Interesting read

    I found this to be an interesting book and I was impressed with the authors details of the time period, etc...

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  • Posted January 17, 2009

    GREAT FAST READ YOU WONT PUT IT DOWN

    GREAT WRITING,CHARACTERSAND STORY.IF YOUR LIKE ME AND LOVE HISTORICAL FICTION THIS IA A GREAT BOOK.

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  • Posted January 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    great medieval mystery

    Intriguing cast of characters, great plot, and beautiful prose. I really enjoyed this book (apart from the tidbits of medieval history...not much of a history fan), as it has retained its place in my permanent library.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2008

    A good read

    This book is 'Bones' for medieval Cambridge. Adelia has a lot in common with her modern counterpart - Temperance Brennan - both are much more comfortable in their profession - using bones to solve murders. The reader is never quite sure who the murderer might be. And while this book might be lacking in historical accuracy, it is keeps you hooked to the mystery.

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    Posted October 26, 2009

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    Posted December 25, 2010

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    Posted May 11, 2013

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    Posted July 10, 2010

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    Posted December 26, 2011

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