Reviews by L. J. Roberts

ARIANA FRANKLIN – A Murderous Procession. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, hardcover, April 2010. Published in the UK as The Assassin’s Prayer: Bantam Press, hardcover, July 2010.

Genre:   Historical mystery. Leading character:  Adelia Aguilar; 4th in series. Setting:   France/Italy; Middle Ages/1179.


First Sentence:   Between the parishes of Shepfold and Martlake in Somerset existed an area of no-man’s-land and a lot of ill feeling.

    Dr. Adelia Aguilar is thrilled to learn Henry II wants to send her to accompany his daughter Joanna’s wedding procession to her home of Sicily. Her feelings change to anger when she learns Henry is keeping Adelia’s daughter in England to ensure Adelia’s return.

   With them, and well concealed, will be Arthur’s sword, Excalibur, as a gift to the bridegroom. Danger a rises from an old foe out to steal the sword and looking for revenge against Adelia.

   There was a different feel to this book than those previous. Whereas before, Adelia seemed very much in control and strong, here she was in situations completely beyond her control and, at times, in great peril.

   While some readers might not care for the change this wrought in the character, I liked that it showed her vulnerability and weaknesses, as well as the human failing that when the truth is too frightening to accept, it is denied.

   There is a progression in the lives of the characters with each book, which is important to me. Some readers have criticized the coup de foudre felt by the Irish sea captain O’Donnell for Adelia. Having personally experienced it — although it didn’t last — I didn’t find it unrealistic. I did enjoy that we meet Adelia’s parents in this book.

   As always with Franklin’s books, I learn so much history. Henry’s daughter, Joan, was known to me, but not in any detail nor her role in history. Of late, I’ve read more books that deal with the Cathers, and I find them fascinating. I certainly knew nothing of the history of Sicily and found it significant that she shows it to us at a turning point in its history.

   Perhaps I’m obtuse, but I did not figure out the identity taken by the villain until it was revealed. What I did not like was the ending. It seems more authors are doing cliff-hanger endings and it’s a trend I dearly hope will end almost immediately. Write a good book, I promise to read the next one without being tricked into so doing.

   I very much enjoyed the story and only the ending prevented my rating it as “excellent.” For readers new to the series, I recommend starting at the beginning. For me, I am ready for the next book.

Rating:   Very Good Plus.

      The “Mistress of the Art of Death” series:    [Adelia Aguilar is the world’s first female anatomist/medical examiner.]

1. The Mistress of the Art of Death (2007)
2. The Serpent’s Tale (2008) aka The Death Maze


3. Relics of the Dead (2009) aka Grave Goods


4. A Murderous Procession (2010) aka The Assassin’s Prayer