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Not quite as good as her previous novels...
on 18 April 2010
"A Murderous Procession" is Ariana Franklin's fourth novel in her Adelia Aguliar series. Franklin is the pseudonym of British author Diana Norman, and she has published one stand-alone novel as Franklin, set in Berlin in 1922.
"Procession", like its three preceding novels, is the story of Adelia Agular, a Sicilian-trained doctor who had come to England during the reign of Henry II to help solve a crime and then had basically been held - loosely - by Henry, unable to return to her home in Sicily. She falls in love with a warrior/churchman and bears a daughter out of wedlock. During her eight year forced stay in England, she has preformed many tasks for Henry and his court and solved crimes using the forensic methods she was taught in Sicily. In addition to her daughter, Allie, she lives with a Saracen, who had originally accompanied her from Sicily, pretending to be the doctor of the duo, and she merely the "interpreter" of his medical methods, as well as several English companions who make up her household.
In this book, Adelia is "requested" by Henry to accompany his daughter Joanna on a long, arduous trip over land and by sea to Sicily, where the child of ten is to be married to William, king of Sicily. To make sure Adelia makes the trip and then returns to England, Henry holds her daughter in a benign captivity. Among others in the hundred-person procession are Rowley, her lover, and various other nobles and workers, including an elusive personality who has sworn to murder Adelia in the foulest way he can think of. He remains so elusive that his identity is not revealed til the end.
As the reader soon learns, life in a medieval procession bears resemblance to a traveling village. With so many personalities in the procession, jealousies, crimes, and personal perversions soon reveal themselves. Deaths begin to happen; deaths both natural and murderous, and Adelia is called into both healing the sick and solving crimes. The book, however, has a slightly frenetic feel to it. Too many characters and too many crimes and too many locations on the long road between London and Sicily make this book feel "cluttered".
It's a good read, but it just isn't as good as its predecessors. If you've read and enjoyed the three previous novels, I'm sure you'll like this one. I just can't quite recommend it as a first Adelia-novel.