Although it's quite expertly-crafted and very well-executed, Mistress of the Art of Death is also very much all over the map.
Is it a historical novel? A murder mystery? A romance?
Yes, to all three. The depiction of England during the time of the Crusades is quite vivid, and makes an entertaining backdrop to the foreground story of a serial killer terrorizing Cambridge with a string of gruesome murders.
And our heroine is quite an inventive character, a young woman from the ancient Italian city of Salerno. She is medically-trained and speaks several languages, and is known as a Mistress of the Art of Death because she got her medical training at a school which practiced autopsies, a quite rare approach at the time, at least in western medicine.
I'm not sure how interested I was in the romance.
And I'm not sure that 12th-century England is all that appealing a place to spend my idle reading hours.
But overall I liked Mistress of the Art of Death quite a lot.
I see that Franklin has written a number of additional books; perhaps I'll give them a try!