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Mistress of the Art of Death  - Ariana Franklin I both enjoyed and was dissappointed by this story.

I'm sure this book was originally recommended to me because of the Jewish aspect but although they did provide a little (a lot less than I expected) background colour, for the most part I felt their inclusion was a Macguffin, useful in that the frequent historical Blood Libels gave the author a good excuse for gory child murder.

I also found Adelia's character a little flat and distant. She kept telling me how she felt about things but I rarely felt it myself.
When there is too much tell and not enough show it begins to get repetative and at times I want to tell her 'Stop being so self-indulgent and get moving!'

I know character development isn't supposed to be the raison d'etre of mysteries but it was dissapointing that while almost all of the charaters had wonderful potential the author never suceeded in letting me get to know them. I felt this most strongly with Simon. Mansur started out as a the dark, mysterious but trustworthy Moor and little changed, while Roly was a rather standard 'annoying turned charming'. The most alive and complex character seemed to be Henry II whose cameo appearances I thoroughly enjoyed..

And then when they are in the Castle and there are birthing noises in the background I was sure something dramatic was going to happen or that Adelia would intervene and introduce everyone to modern birthing methods but nothing. An anti-climax.
In fact that was my general feeling with the book - it was missing a vital 10% that would have transformed it from OK to excellent.