Wednesday, 30 March 2011


Genre:  Historical Fiction
Published by:  Bantam Books  (May 2008)
Pages:  525  (Paperback)

My Rating:  9/10

About the Book:

Adelia Aguilar is a rare thing in medieval Europe – a woman who has trained as a doctor. Her speciality is the study of corpses, a skill that must be concealed if she is to avoid accusations of witchcraft.
But in Cambridge a child has been murdered, others are disappearing, and King Henry has called upon a renowned Italian investigator to find the killer – fast.
What the king gets is Adelia, his very own Mistress of the Art of Death.
The investigation takes Adelia deep into Cambridge; its castle and convents, and streets teeming with life. And it is here that she attracts the attention of a murderer who is prepared to kill again…

In the first of a series of novels featuring Adelia, we are introduced to this woman from Solerno, Italy who has come to England to help find the killer of several children without disclosing the fact that she’s a real doctor.  It wasn’t easy for her but she understood peoples superstitions and was careful not to be regarded as a witch.

Adelia Aguilar is now one of my favourite historical characters, she’s a woman in a man’s world, way ahead of her time, intelligent, witty, independent  and obsessed with the dead and what their bodies tell her.....and she’s not afraid of speaking her mind!

I thought the storyline was compelling …. there was a little romance … some gruesome details describing the childrens deaths and their injuries …... some wonderful warm and quirky characters, especially Gyltha the cook and housekeeper who is a big softy despite her rough exterior …... a few nasty characters …... a good steady build up to the killers identity, which I didn’t guess...... all simply told.

I would recommend this one for all medieval murder mystery fans.  

Sadly, the author Ariana Franklin passed away earlier this year but she leaves us with three more in this series --

The Serpent’s Tale (aka The Death Maze)
Relics of the Dead (aka Grave Goods)
A Murderous Procession (aka The Assassin’s Prayer)

This is my 3rd and final read in The Great Transworld Crime Caper Challenge

For more on Ariana Franklin please click here


  1. I've got this book waiting in my TBR pile, so I'm glad you enjoyed it :) I didn't pick it in The Great Transworld Crime Caper Challenge (which I thoroughly enjoyed), but subconsiously picked it up while I was in Waterstones one day.

  2. Hi Nikki-ann, I'd never heard of Ariana Franklin before so was unsure of it before I read it, but I'm glad I picked it. Hope you enjoy it too .... let me know when you've read it and I'll put a link to your review on here.
    All the books from the Transworld Challenge have been great, looking forward to the next one!

  3. Hi Carole,
    Its great to find another fan of The Mistress of the Art of Death. I read it a couple of months ago and loved. I can't wait to read the next in the series.
    Thanks for your review.

  4. Hi Lauren, Thanks for your comments. I don't think this series is as well known as it should be, I'm glad we're doing our bit to get the word out about it!



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