Ariana Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Death series is one of my favorites. One of my co-workers calls it 12th century CSI. Thus far there are three books: Mistress of the Art of Death, The Serpent’s Tale, and Grave Goods.
The premise is this: Adelia, who studied medicine in Salerno, Italy, is sent to England when King Henry II requests a physician trained in the “art of death” to help him solve a string of murders that are threatening his kingdom’s stability. He is expecting a man; instead, he gets a feisty, outspoken woman.
The English, however, are much less accepting of a woman physician than those in Adelia’s hometown, and she and the manservant she travels with are forced to pretend he is the doctor and she his interpreter. Their work proves so invaluable to Henry that he keeps them on for future situations.
The third book was my favorite to date — that is, until I read the fourth one, which has taken the lead. Due in April, A Murderous Procession manages to be a great fourth installment, lacking any staleness that one might suspect from a long-running series.
King Henry assigns Adelia to accompany his daughter, Joanna, to Italy for her wedding. Soon, though, mysterious deaths begin to occur amongst the massive royal procession, and Adelia is the prime suspect. She must uncover the real killer and clear her name before the murderer’s ultimate goal is accomplished. It’s tough to put this book down, but make sure you start with the first one if you’re going to follow Adelia’s adventures!