Friday, 30 May 2008

Ariana Franklin

Mistress of the Art of Death is a great title and it belongs to a book written by Ariana Franklin, which won the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award in 2007. I haven’t read the book as yet, but the reviews were impressive. It’s now a chunky paperback, and the story-line looks interesting. In Cambridge in 1171, a child has been killed and other children have disappeared. The Jews, who provide a large part of King Henry’s revenue, are being accused of the crimes by angry locals. Simon of Naples is called in to investigate and his associates include a young doctor called Adelia Aguilar – who is the eponymous mistress of the art of death.

The paperback publication coincides with the appearance in hardback of a follow-up with another good title: The Death Maze. Adelia returns at the king’s behest to find the killer of Rosamund Clifford; his wife has already been accused and is suspected of plotting to start a civil war against him.

When it comes to historical mysteries, I have long had a mild preference for books set in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. For instance, I really love Peter Lovesey’s Sergeant Cribb series and The False Inspector Dew, set in the first part of the last century is a masterpiece. Certainly, I enjoy the likes of Ellis Peters too, but I tend to take Brother Cadfael in small doses. However, the success of C.J. Sansom (whom I haven’t read yet) has made me realise that a great deal of excellent work is being done right now in a wide range of historical periods. I look forward to sampling the work of Ariana Franklin.

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