Tuesday, December 06, 2011

I Read That

Isn't it funny that it hardly occurs to me to review books I recently finished with, as opposed to those I'm in the middle of?  Why would I talk about those?  They're yesterday's news.

Literally yesterday.  I'm not always a mystery reader, but the Mistress of the Art of Death series by Ariana Franklin has a firm grip on my love of historical fiction. I had Grave Goods
on my desk/table/floor next to the table for over a month before I picked it up from the long list.

But oh, it did not disappoint. In fact, I think I'd forgotten how much I love this series.  Tightly plotted, full of historical detail, and just the right amount of color and flavor.  I hate a mystery where you know who did it by the Law of Economy of Characters, but I also hate a mystery that rambles around and mostly isn't about the mystery.  That's never a problem here--place and time, political intrigue and love and fire and superstition are wrapped up tightly and hurl you through the story.

I think it helps that I love Bones, since it's basically Bones in the Middle Ages, like some time travel episode of a sitcom. Adelia is a doctor, trained in Italy where social mores are liberal enough to allow a woman that profession.  She's scientific, literal, and not very socially adept; her expertise is the dead.  In the first book she comes to England to assist Henry II with an investigation.  In this book, she's trying to establish whether a disinterred body is that of the legendary Arthur, whose proven death might help quell a Welsh rebellion.

But there's so much more to the story.  The innkeepers, the abbot, the huntsmen, the bard, the knight, the friend, and of course the Bishop of St. Albans (wink wink).  All the subplots come together neatly (but not too neatly), and there is just the right amount of peril, confusion, and diversion.  And there is comeuppance, though not all exactly what one might wish for.

As I said, I'm not a mystery person.  But I've already reserved the most recent book in the series, A Murderous Procession, from the library.

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