49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Humor, drama, suspense and a dash of romance,
This review is from: Grave Goods (Mistress of the Art of Death) (Hardcover)
First Sentence: "And God was angry with His people of Somerset so that, in the year of Our Lord 1154. pm the day after the feast of Saint Stephen, He caused an earthquake that it might punish them for their sins..." Thus wrote Brother Caradoc in Saint Michael's chapel in top of Glastonbury Tor, to which he'd scrambled, gasping and sobbing, so as to escape the devastation that God with his earthquake had wrought on everything below it.
King Henry II is fighting to suppress the rebellious Welsh, who still believe the Ancient King Arthur will rise up to rescue them. One of Henry's prisoners tells of a vision his uncle had 20 year's earlier of seeing monks bury Arthur at Glastonbury. Henry orders that there be an attempt to find Arthur's bones and sends for Adelia to make the verification.
When an Ariana Franklin book shows up at my door, all other life stops. Franklin is an author from whom I know I shall get a wonderful story. This book was no exception.
With historical mysteries, I always start by reading the Author's Notes. I like knowing what is historically accurate and what liberties have been taken. In this case; there were not many. The depth of research is evident and educational. Herbs, weapons, law, forensic science, and medicine during this period are masterfully woven into the story.
Franklin's writing is so visual; it is as if watching a film. The descriptions are rich and, even when the scenes are unpleasant, so well done. I liked the use of lucid dreams, the inclusion of Excalibur and a very nasty version of Robin Hood and his men.
The characters are wonderful. Adelia is smart, strong and caring. Although focused on her task at hand, she is even more concerned about her friend, Emma, who, along with her son and staff, has disappeared. All the characters are three dimensional and believable, although I shall always hear Henry II as having Peter O'Toole's voice.
The dialogue is often funny providing laughter amidst the drama, as is true in life.
Is this a perfect book? No, as there are a few too many coincidences. Is it a great read? With humor, drama, suspense and a dash of romance: Absolutely!