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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.
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Critic Reviews

"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)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Jami E. Nettles on 02-17-07

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.

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23 of 23 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Virginia on 12-01-08


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.

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17 of 17 people found this review helpful

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