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Extended Audio Sample Mistress of the Art of Death, by Ariana Franklin Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (15,867 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ariana Franklin Narrator: Rosalyn Landor Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Mistress of the Art of Death Series Release Date:
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A chilling, mesmerizing novel that combines the best of modern forensic thrillers with the detail and drama of historical fiction

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 I 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 they are searching for. 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Vivid and engaging…Succeeds brilliantly as both historical fiction and crime thriller. [A] terrific book…with a dozen twists.”

    Washington Post

  • “A potentially winning formula, delivered with panache.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • Winner of the 2008 Macavity Award for the Sue Feder Memorial Historical Mystery

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by E2d2 | 2/11/2014

    " This book is filled with strong characters, especially the protagonist Adelia who refuses to be anything than what she is: a 12th century forensic scientist. The writing is unique and clear, leaving much to the reader's imagination and interpolation. However, it is not for anyone squeamish about children's murders and mutilation. If you want a good mystery where the "whodunit" is difficult to pinpoint, then it's worth a read. I'm moving on to the others in the series next. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Heather Adkins | 2/11/2014

    " This book was phenomenal. I picked it out on the website where I get a monthly credit to buy an audiobook, and suffice it to say I can't imagine having thoroughly enjoyed this book in any other way. The reader, Rosalind Miles, was just fantastic, and Franklin's story is at once grotesque, disturbing, fascinating, and completely remarkable. To set a book in the 1100s! What wonderful talent it takes to do the necessary research, yet take the creative license needed to create the Character of Adelia - doctor to the dead. I look forward to the rest of the series. A much recommended book, particularly in audio form! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Nancy Day | 2/6/2014

    " You can't help but admire the historical setting, and the writing's not bad. But come on, a liberated woman pathologist in the 12th century . . . I have to say, even as a feminist, I get tired of the plucky-female-private-eye-pulling-against-unfair-social-forces. Try Sarah Dunant's trilogy instead (a few hundred years later but lots more believable women). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Cupcakencorset | 2/4/2014

    " An excellent start to what promises to be an extraordinarily good series, this novel brings us perhaps the world's earliest fictional forensics expert, and a woman to boot. I don't know how accurately the day-to-day life is described, and certain gritty aspects of life remain undescribed, but the characters are engaging and the action well plotted in a society that differs from ours less than you might expect. And while I am looking forward to the sequel, I find myself a bit dismayed to be following yet another ongoing series, which is all well and good... until I finish the newest entry and have to wait months or longer for the next one. (Yes, I am spoiled. Thank you for noticing.) Fans of historical novels, forensics novels, romance novels will all find something special in Franklin's creation. Highly recommended. "

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