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Second book in the Adelia Aguilar Series,
This review is from: The Death Maze (US title: The Serpent's Tale) (Hardcover)
First, let me warn the reader that this book is also published under the title The Serpent's Tale.
Ariana Franklin is the pseudonym of a well-known author of historical novels, Diana Norman, wife of the film critic Barry Norman. She is a former Fleet Street Reporter and lives in Hertfordshire.
I thoroughly enjoyed the author's first book Mistress Of The Art Of Death, finding it well researched and very well written, so of course I was delighted when I saw the Serpent's tale in the bookshop. Sometimes in these circumstances the reader feels let down, either because the second book is not as good as the first or more likely the reader's expectations are too high. No such thing with this book, it is equally as good if not better than the first, particularly as the main character of Adelia Aguilar is now familiar to those who have read the first book.
In the first novel, Adelia initially came to England at the request of Henry I who asked his cousin the king of Sicily to send him a "Master of Death" an early version of our present medical examiner in the hope that a scientific examination would be able to exonerate the Jewish community and save them from the rioting mob who believe that the Jews sacrifice Christian children. The Italian doctor chosen for the task is a young prodigy from the University of Salerno. But her name is Adelia, the king has been sent a mistress of the art of death.
In the Serpent's Tale Henry II is now on the throne and his mistress Rosamund Clifford has died a painful death by poisoning. Henry's wife Eleanor of Aquitaine is the number one suspect. Henry feels that this could well be the start of a campaign by Eleanor to discredit him and take the throne either for herself or her son's. Civil war could soon break out and Henry needs an answer to the crime and quickly. Henry immediately sends for Adelia is Mistrress of the Art of Death, who is less than pleased to be brought from retirement in the country where she is spending a carefree life attending to the needs of her little daughter.