The scene is Cambridge, England in the year 1171. Children are being murdered and the superstitious locals are convinced that a Jew is to blame for the crimes. A prominent Jew has already been murdered in revenge and a petition has been sent to King Henry II requesting that all Jews be banished from the kingdom.
Ahead of his time, the king is a rational man. He doubts the guilt of the Jews and needs the taxes he collects from their community. To calm the local populace and for their own protection, the Jews of Cambridge have been locked up in a castle, where they are enduring cold and near starvation.
Galloping to the rescue is the brilliant and brave hero of this fascinating novel, Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar of Salerno, Sicily. Adelia is a true oddity for her time, a female doctor who is an expert in examining the dead. Once she reaches England, she cannot be known as a doctor, lest she be declared a witch and sent to her death. With her Muslim bodyguard pretending to be the doctor and Adelia his assistant, she commences the adventure of navigating the culture and the details of a complex case.
Author Ariana Franklin deftly combines historical fiction, mystery, a feminist treatise, and an unlikely romance into a great read.