Category: Adult Fiction
Published: February 2007
Read: January 2010
Synopsis: (Goodreads) 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 II 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 . .
Review: This is a historical crime fiction which is good and bad at the same time. It is the start of a series and as of this review there is three more books after this so the author is on a roll.
It is a murder mystery set in Medieval times and involves children so you know it’s an intense read. It is a women who is the main character and “mistress in the art of death” which is basically the first term for forensic detective. Being a women in these times are hard enough but this makes it more intense for her. She is also Italian and has to go to England to solve these murders. The author incorporates hate for certain types of people which is always a major subject no matter what time period you are talking about.
It’s a fast read, and an easy read over all. There are not a lot of medical terms and the ones they do talk about are easy to understand. It’s well written and there are a lot of description. If you like these types of mystery’s this is a series you should check out.
My problems with the book is I found the climax was underwhelming. It was a big build up to not much of a conclusion. I also didn’t find that the main character was one I got to know well. I realise that with series this is usually the case but it was disappointing. A little more substance would have made it a wow book. These are the reasons I would not give it more of a score than I did.
I wouldn’t read it again but I am happy I did get to read it once.