It’s 1171. Children have gone missing in Cambridge, brutally murdered. As the first was around Easter, of course the Jews get blamed for it and are put in hiding for protection. Someone turns to the King of Sicily for help, who sends Simon of Naples, a noted problem fixer, along with a pathologist (a new and little known profession) to the said village to clear up the problem. But the pathologist is … a woman.
Apparently, in Salerno in 1171 women are allowed to learn medicine, and people of all races and status associate together for the betterment of study and knowledge. Right.
In addition, Simon of Naples is a Jew, and they are accompanied by Mansur, a Muslim, black euneuch. Really?
Add to that the really annoying stereotype: Our pathologist (Mistress of the Art of Death) is intelligent and female. Therefore, she doesn’t put any effort into her appearance unless forced to, at which point she becomes gorgeous, but this, as she says, is not important. Now I have recently discovered that the trouble to put clothes that fit properly and put some jewelery in the morning takes up, oh, maybe 5 minutes (and some money, but that isn’t her problem, as she is also rich). However, as she is intelligent of course she can’t trouble to make herself attractive (or for that matter, even bother to learn how to talk to people). Because all intelligent women are sexless robots (until “woken” by the right man, of course).
The villain was never really figured out, more just…drifted into. Add to that a lot of explicitly detailed descriptions of violence, specifically towards children (which maybe moved the plot?) and grownups (which certainly didn’t), and this book really annoyed me.
I admit it; I like Nora Roberts novels. Even though the plot is usually predictable, and her supense novels rarely hold water. But a book that stretches belief, brings you to an age known as the “dark ages”, panders to stereotypes (because they were true then… weren’t they? /sarcasm), has absurd notions of romance and is also full of mindless violence?
No thanks. I’d give this 0, but as I still couldn’t put the book down it gets 1 star.