King Henry II's mistress, Rosamund, has been poisoned, and Adelia Aguilar, the intriguing forensics expert first introduced in Mistress of the Art of Death, once again is charged by King Henry to find the murderer. But there is more at stake than the identity of a killer: Civil war threatens to ravage an already war-sick England as Henry's Queen Eleanor rallies troops to depose him. Adelia, now the mother of an infant daughter, is reunited with her lover, Rowley Picot, Henry's loyal bishop. As more savage killings ensue, Adelia works feverishly to save innocents and protect the peace.
After reading Mistress of the Art of Death last year, I was very excited to read this book by her and see what was going to happen next. Many of the cast of characters from the previous book are present, so the reader gets a chance to watch the characters grow even more in this book. Once again, the book is centred around Adelia Aguilar, the forsenics expert, so the vast amount of the story is told from her point of view.
The awkward part of this book, and the previous one, was the romance angle. It was not a terrible decision, but it does not really flow for me with the rest of the book. Now, Adelia has an infant daughter that has to be worked in to the storyline, so that makes things even more complicated. She loves her daughter, hates leaving her for even a moment, so she is not the same Adelia from the previous book in many ways. She is still capable of tracking down a killer, but there is not as much forensic work in this novel as in the previous one. Adelia is also caught between two feuding monarches, so it was really interesting for Franklin to add Queen Eleanor to the storyline and actually give her a presence in the book.
Adelia had been leading a quiet life since the events of the last novel, but now the kings favourite mistress has been killed, and he wants Adelia to get to the bottom of it. Adelia would be just as happy to stay where she is, but if the king commands it, she has to answer the call. A mistresses death is not the only event that Adelia will get wrapped up in, so be ready for some adventures similiar to the previous novel. When the pieces come together you will not be sure if you are surprised or you expected things to work out that way.
Overall, I enjoyed this second novel in the series. I think I liked book one better, but at the same time the events are a bit different so it is hard to make an exact comparision between the two. Franklin is an excellent writer, and I cannot wait for the next book in the series. I strongly recommend this book to those that like mystery or historical fiction, you will not be disappointed!