Sunday, April 29, 2007



My latest audio book is Mistress of the Art of Death. It's another whodunit, albeit set in 1171.


Four children have been found dead and mutilated. The Jews of Cambridge have been blamed for the murders, the most prominent Jewish moneylender and his wife have been killed by a mob, and the rest of the Jewish community is shut up in the castle under the protection of the sheriff.


The Jews are prosperous, and thus the king of England considers them his prize cash cows. He wants them cleared of suspicion and released, so they can go back to paying him high taxes. To this end, he appeals to his cousin, the king of Sicily, to send his best master of the art of death: a doctor skilled in "reading" bodies. Enter Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, 25, the best mistress of death that the medical school at Salerno (the only medical school at that time that taught women) has ever produced. With Simon of Naples, a Jewish "fixer," and Mansur, a eunuch with a mean throwing-ax, it's her job to find a murderer before he -- or she -- can kill again.


Though the story is set in Cambridge, the Crusades run through the culture. The story's background is a wonderful tapestry of the paradoxes and struggles of the times: Christianity and Islam, Christians and Jews, science and superstition, and the new power of Henry II's rule of law versus the stranglehold of the Church.


There are also fascinating details of historical forensic medicine, entertaining notes on women in science (the medical school at Salerno is not fictional), and a nice running commentary on science and superstition, as distinct from religious faith.


Birthday postscript . . .


These are just part of the bouquet of tulips sent by my mother (and her little dog Matty). I often send flowers by Proflowers.com, but this is the first time I have been a recipient. For anyone looking for an easy way to send flowers, give them a try.


The girls and I are having a lazy Sunday. The weather is a bit gloomy, which makes it a perfect day for lying about on the couch . . .

10 Comments:

Blogger sage said...

I was visiting a friend in the hospital a few weeks ago and his wife was reading this book and spoke highly of it (even though the title and the setting--a hospital room--didn't seem go together).

12:38 PM  
Blogger NY KAT said...

I really need to get back into reading....I've been reading the same book for what seems like forever.

3:17 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

Well, I wished you a happy birthday over at Sage's, and here I'll say it again!

You and I seem to be the only two playing the meet and greet today; most others cannot access the site. Thanks for the visit - and yes - Michele sent me.

4:05 PM  
Blogger EditThis said...

Wally's sleeping now, too. He's exhausted from swimming in the ocean!

4:46 PM  
Blogger Prunella Jones said...

I'm exhausted from my new exercise routine. Blech, every part of me is sore. Your dogs have the right idea. I'm about to curl up like that too.

6:01 PM  
Blogger GetFlix said...

That book sounds really good.

7:34 PM  
Blogger D.O.M. Dan said...

I can't find time to read the Sunday paper, let alone a good book. I barely find time to read a handful of blogs. Such is the life of a husband and father to a high-maintenance wife and two high-maintenance kids.

7:45 PM  
Blogger Ffleur said...

Wow that book sounds great. Right up my alley: a mystery, history, English. What is not to love. Alright its added to my list (with "The Shifting Fog).

Your tulips are gorgeous. Love the colour.

8:24 PM  
Blogger LA said...

Seriously beautiful tulips. I'm reading Sting's memoir.

11:17 PM  
Blogger M-M-M-Mishy said...

Beautiful flowers and two sleepy dogs. The signs of a well spent birthday!

4:50 PM  

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