BOOK: The Serpent’s Tale by Ariana Franklin (2008)

This book is the second in Franklin’s series set in the Middle Ages and starring Sicilian “death expert” Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar (whew!).

In the first novel, Mistress of the Art of Death, Adelia was sent to England at the behest of her king to help King Henry II solve a series of brutal child murders.  After the case was resolved, King Henry asked (demanded, really) that Adelia remain in England in case her skills were ever needed again.

Since then, she’s been working as a medical doctor in the fens, helping the poor and caring for her illegitimate child, the daughter of Rowley Picot, former Crusader, Adelia’s lover in the first book, and now one of the king’s bishops (which is why he wouldn’t/couldn’t marry Adelia).

As this book opens, Rowley has come to Adelia for the first time since their child was born to ask for her help in solving a murder.  Still bitter over having been dumped, despite the fact she likely wouldn’t have married him anyway, Adelia at first refuses.  But when Rowley tells her a civil war is brewing because of the crime, she can’t say no.

What’s happened is that Henry’s infamous mistress, Rosamund Clifford, has been murdered — poisoned by toxic mushrooms given to her cook by a mysterious stranger.  Henry is convinced his estranged wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine is to blame, and he’s begun readying his army — as she readies hers — to take her down.

Rowley, though, is convinced the queen is innocent (or murder, anyway) and he desperately needs proof to prevent the war — a war he knows will devastate the nation.  But if it wasn’t the jealous wife, then who?  Someone who wants civil war?  In that case, why?

This is another engrossing mystery from Franklin, full of great characters and packed with history.  Though I found it a little needlessly drawn out in places, even the unnecessary parts of the story are a pleasure to read, offering insight into the roles of women in the Middle Ages, class structure of the era, and the development of forensic science and the study of death.

Looking forward to the next book in the series, and highly recommend both the ones I’ve read so far!


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2 Responses to “BOOK: The Serpent’s Tale by Ariana Franklin (2008)”

  1. Tina Rowley Says:

    Also, the guy’s name is ROWLEY.

  2. alisaj29 Says:

    The next one is a little slow going IMHO, but good.

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