Re-reading Mistress of the Art of Death

By Paul Heinlein | Sep 23, 2014

I’m currently re-reading Ariana Franklin’s very entertaining historical mystery novel Mistress of the Art of Death. Both Goodreads and Amazon have plot summaries, which I won’t provide here.

My first time through the book, about two years ago, I spent most of my reading energy wrapping my head around the setting (England, in the realm of Henry II) and the various characters. Consequently, I failed to notice a crucial point: Ms. Franklin does a tremendous job writing characters who are likable and competent and, at the same time, limited and imperfect. These are people you’d want to know and would be pleased to call friends and colleagues, but who have a normal range of biases, blindspots, prejudices, and the like.

Since my first reading wasn’t all that long ago, the large plot outlines and even some individual scenes are still firmly planted in my memory, but the adultness of these characters is something I’m enjoying for the first time.