Mistress of the Art of Death: A Novel Audiobook | Ariana Franklin | Audible.com
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Mistress of the Art of Death: A Novel | [Ariana Franklin]

Mistress of the Art of Death: A Novel

In medieval England, four children have been murdered, and the townsfolk blame their Jewish neighbors. The doctor chosen to investigate is a woman, Adelia. As she examines the victims and retraces their last steps, she must conceal her true identity in order to avoid accusations of witchcraft. Along the way, she's assisted by Sir Rowley Picot, a man with a personal stake in the investigation. A former Crusader knight, Rowley may be a needed friend - or the fiend for whom they are searching.
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Publisher's Summary

In medieval Cambridge, four children have been murdered. The Catholic townsfolk blame their Jewish neighbors, so to save them from the rioting mob, the Cambridge Jews are placed under the protection of the king. Henry II is no friend to the Jews - or anyone, really - but he believes in law and order, and he desperately needs the taxes he receives from Jewish merchants. Hoping scientific investigation will help to catch the true killer, Henry calls on his cousin, the King of Sicily, whose subjects are the best medical experts in Europe, and asks for his finest "master of the art of death", the earliest form of medical examiner. The Italian doctor chosen for this task is a young prodigy from the University of Salerno, an expert in the science of anatomy and the art of detection. But her name is Adelia; the king has sent a "mistress of the art of death".

In a backward and superstitious country like England, Adelia faces danger at every turn. As she examines the victims and retraces their last steps, she must conceal her true identity in order to avoid accusations of witchcraft. Along the way, she's assisted by one of the king's tax collectors, Sir Rowley Picot, a man with a personal stake in the investigation. A former Crusader knight, Rowley may be a needed friend - or the fiend for whom they are searching.

As Adelia's investigation takes her along 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.

©2007 Ariana Franklin; (P)2007 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., and Books on Tape. All rights reserved.

What the Critics Say

"Franklin...delivers rich period detail and a bloody good ending reflecting the savagery of the times." (Booklist)
"A skillful blend of historical fact and gruesome fiction that's more than sufficient to keep readers interested and entertained." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Irenehope Gold Canyon, AZ , USA 03-02-07
    Irenehope Gold Canyon, AZ , USA 03-02-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    71
    ratings
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    152
    18
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    "History-Mystery of the Year & its only March"

    Adelia is sent from Salerno to Cambridge, requested by Henry II, and ordered by the King of Sicily, to look into the deaths of several children in medieval Cambridge. She arrives with Simon of Naples, a Jewish fixer and Mansur her Saracen manservant. Adelia is a doctor who "reads bodies." She is strong, straight talking, and devoted to science. She is also broadminded & has a sense of humor. On the road into town she cures a local Prior which gives her the beginnings of support in the town. The support grows as her unique qualities, and those of her companions, attract help from other people in town.

    I will not give anything else away.
    It's a must read. It combines everything I love in an Audible book: history, mystery, intelligence, humor, characters you care about, an excellent reader, and great writing.

    18 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jami E. Nettles Columbus, MS USA 02-17-07
    Jami E. Nettles Columbus, MS USA 02-17-07 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    328
    ratings
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    153
    63
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    28
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    "good story wonderfully set"

    The mystery in this story is good, but the characters and setting are even better. This takes place in 11th century London, and the main character is an Italian woman doctor who specializes in forensic pathology. I wanted to stop listening and save some for an upcoming drive, but I was unable to stop. I thoroughly enjoyed this listen.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cate P Colorado 06-14-09
    Cate P Colorado 06-14-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    38
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    43
    14
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    "Great Woman Character"

    I enjoyed this book immensely. While versed in parts of English history, the reign of Henry II is new for me. The connection between the plot and its historical significance is cleverly concealed until the end. Adelia, the main character, is anything but a wilting violet and unusual for her time. I was concerned that this book would be gruesome as it revolves around the violent murders of children. While the details are set forth, they are not presented in a gratuitous or prurient manner. There are a few missteps in the writing but none that made me want to put the book down. The narration is fabulous! The author's comments setting out what parts of the book are factual and what parts are fictionalized is narrated at the end which gives the book added historical interest. I highly recomment it!

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Virginia Cincinnati, OH, USA 12-01-08
    Virginia Cincinnati, OH, USA 12-01-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
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    26
    11
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    "Amazing!"

    This might very well be the most incredible book I have ever read, and the narrator, the best I've ever listened to. It took me at least a half an hour to be grabbed by the book, but after that, I was hooked---could hardly accomplish anything because I wanted to be listening to this magnificent, chilling, informative, intelligent work of art. I learned so much about the Crusades, Medieval medicine, the Catholic church, females in that era, and much much more. I can't rave enough about this book, and will undoubedtly listen to it again...despite its length.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rose Chesapeake, OH, United States 03-08-07
    Rose Chesapeake, OH, United States 03-08-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fine Story"

    Even knowing that there was some major anachronisms in this book, I was dragged into this tale and, willy-nilly, enjoyed it very much.

    Ok-- the medieval Body Farm in Salerno was a bit much. But still, I found I could grin at the concept and go on reading an interesting twist on the familiar medieval story of William of Norwich, a young tanner's apprentice discovered slain in a wood with signs of violent death. The story is known from the writings of Thomas of Monmouth. William is made into Peter of Trumpington, whose murder sets in motion a series of events that cause Henry II to send for a Master of Death from the learned physicians of Salerno in order to set matters to right in Cambridge.

    Simon of Naples, a fixer, and the titular Mistress of the Art of Death arrive in England in time to join with a group of pilgrims returning to Cambridge from the shrine of Thomas a Becket and the adventure begins.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wadie Santa Ana, CA, United States 06-05-08
    Wadie Santa Ana, CA, United States 06-05-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    224
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    Overall
    "Surprising"

    This book started slow. Yet the slow pace of the beginning turned out to be exactly right. In a way this is "CSI" type story set in Henry II's England. The descriptive passages are hypnotic.
    I love to read or listen to books where the characters are so well written as to become living breathing people. The plot and "people" were so involving I'd drive around the block to get to the end of a chapter! That is saying something when gas is 4 bucks a gallon:)

    Despite the murders the book isn't gory. It is very intense though. I enjoyed it very much and am eagerly awaiting the next installment. The reader, Rosalyn Landor, was marvelous.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Rogue River, OR, United States 12-08-07
    Linda Rogue River, OR, United States 12-08-07 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    31
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    25
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    "well done and different"

    A serial murder mystery with a twist. This story takes place during the reign of Henry II, making it an historical murder mystery. The pomp and majesty of the times, the deviousness of politics (even then, some things never change!), the rivalry between the church and king, and the squalor in which the peasantry lived provide a rich and interesting background for the horrible murders that take place. The 'detectives' working with the tools of the time must find a killer of children. I thought that the narration was excellent and actually added to the story. The narrator moved between the delicate voice and accent of the female doctor, the king, his many knights, the prior and nuns and the rest with such facility that I was never really aware while listening that there was only one narrator. I was able to lose myself in the book.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marian Minneapolis, MN, USA 04-11-07
    Marian Minneapolis, MN, USA 04-11-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
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    97
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    "tour de force"

    This is a teriffic book, even more inspiring for its being its writer's first effort. It scores on every point - a rich plot with twists and turns, marvelous characters, engrossing period detail, even a feminist outlook to go with 12th century England! I could not rate it highly enough. It's a book I will return to. I look foward to hearing from the author again.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Stuart, FL, USA 04-29-08
    Jennifer Stuart, FL, USA 04-29-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    20
    4
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    "Great period mystery"

    I loved this book. Great detail and I didn't figure it out. Some might call it graphic for the subject matter but it really was a great mystery and very well written and read. The fact that this is basically a medical pathologist in the middle ages who is a woman makes it really interesting. The differences in science between Italy and England during the Dark Ages and the Renaissance are referenced ALOT. Not sure how much historical accuracy there is regarding the medical knowledge but... if I wanted accuracy i would read non-fiction... if you looking for a great story here you go. Enjoy

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maureen UNION, ME, USA 11-23-07
    Maureen UNION, ME, USA 11-23-07 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    9
    1
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    0
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    Overall
    "images"

    There were some lovely images and the times the author shifted from the "story" to the surround made me feel grounded in the narrative. Several of the characters were complex enough to be real. As in life, sometimes first impressions changed. I could listen to the narrator indefinitely. It sounded to me as if as many people were reading it as there were characters. If you like mysteries and you can countenance descriptions of children being hurt, don't miss it.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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