Thursday, 29 July 2010

Review:- Ariana FRANKLIN – “Mistress of the Art of Death”

Year Published: - 2007
Where the book was from:- Pensby library
ISBN: - 9780553818000
Pages: - 507pp
Genre: - Historical crime
Location:- Cambridge 1171
How I came across it: - Serendipity
Rating: - ***** *****
One sentence summary:- An excellent mystery set in Henry II’s reign as a female doctor from Salerno sets out to investigate the deaths of children which have been blamed on the local Jews.

Describe the plot without giving anything away:- In Cambridge a child has been hideously murdered and some others have disappeared. The King of Siciliy sends one of his ‘fixers’ together with a female doctor from Salerno and her Arabic eunuch servant. This unlikely trio join some pilgrims from Canterbury and arrive at Cambridge just as the other children’s bodies are discovered. It is a great crime story, a fine historical tale and a well characterised work. I shall certainly be hunting other Ariana Franklin works. So far there are four books in the series:-

1. The Mistress of the Art of Death (2007)
2. The Serpent's Tale (2008)
aka The Death Maze
3. Relics of the Dead (2009)
aka Grave Goods
4. A Murderous Procession (2010)
aka The Assassin's Prayer

General comments:- This story has a certain basis in fact and I certainly seemed to recognise parts of it. I have a feeling that I have not only read about the events themselves but also another work of fiction with the same subject. Nevertheless, this is a first class work.

AUTHOR Notes:- Ariana Franklin is a pseudonym used by Diana Norman. After working on local newspapers in Devon and the East End of London, Diana Norman became, at twenty years of age, the youngest reporter on what used to be Fleet Street. She married the film critic Barry Norman, and they have settled in Hertfordshire with their two daughters. Her first book of fiction, Fitzempress's Law, was chosen by Frank Delaney of BBC Radio 4's Bookshelf as the best example of a historical novel of its year. She is now a freelance journalist, as well as a writer of biographies and historical novels.

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