Synopsis according to Goodreads:
"In 1176, King Henry II sends his daughter Joanna to Palermo to marry his cousin, the king of Sicily. Henry chooses Adelia Aguilar, his Mistress of the Art of Death, to travel with the princess and safeguard her health. But when people in the wedding procession are murdered, Adelia and Rowley must discover the killer's identity . . . and whether he is stalking the princess or Adelia herself."
Which is a damned shame, not only because she's the kind of mystery novelist who truly leaves you guessing and because her protagonist, Adelia, is a fantastic character, but because this one ended on a bit of a cliffhanger.
Franklin has usually outwitted me in terms of the whodunit, and I love that her novels are not just about the mystery but about the history- each contains a healthy dose of education about England and Europe during Henry II's reign. I already knew the broad strokes of it, but her writing really adds depth and life to the history.
In this case, the story directly ties to Grave Goods, the one that happens (chronologically) before it. And of course, I thought I knew exactly who the killer was, until (no kidding) the very last chapter of the book. The plot is fraught with tension, both with the story and the larger themes of the Catholic Church beating everybody up and stealing their lunch money.
It was an entertaining read, and although I recommend at least reading Grave Goods before this one, it does stand on its own. I recommend it for fans of historical fiction, murder mysteries, strong female protagonists, edutainment, large numbers of secondary characters, and madness.
Labels: a murderous procession, ariana franklin, book review, book series, female protagonist, historical fiction, medieval, mistress of the art of death, murder, mystery, novels in november