The Saffron Crocus,
YA Historical Mystery
by Alison McMahan
Black Opal Books
December 13, 2014.
Black Opal Books:
Was Margherita killed so someone could steal her saffron business? Or was it a disgruntled lover, as Margherita—unbeknownst to Isabella—was one of Venice’s wealthiest courtesans?
Or will Isabella and Rafaele find the answer deep in Margherita's past, buried in the Jewish Ghetto?
Isabella has to solve the mystery of the Saffron Crocus before Rafaele hangs for a murder he didn’t commit, though she fears the truth will drive her and the man she loves irrevocably apart.
The stool next to the bed was knocked over. The tray with the genepy bottle was on the floor, one of the cups broken. The fat candle that had been burning next to Rafaele’s bed had been flung to the other side of the room.. Canvases were strewn all over the floor, some of them slashed, and many of Master Strozzi’s jars of paint elements were broken.
Did Piero and Rafaele have a fight? She quickly suppressed the thought. Who would get into a fight with a man who was already injured?
Something else must have happened.
She walked across the garret. “Piero? Rafaele, are you here?”
Rafaele was not in the bed. The sheets and blankets she had piled on top of him were strewn everywher. Blood-stained sheets spilled over the edge of the pallet. There was a pile of clothes on the floor.
She walked around to get a closer look.
Not clothes. It was Piero. Face down, one arm over his face, as if to defend himself.
A puddle of blood under him.
~ Nancy Holder, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Wicked Saga
Ferdinand III, Queen Anna of Spain, Ferdinand IV, Father Athanasius Kircher, the doge, Fra Liberato, Claudio Monteverdi, Bernardo Strozzi, Madame Europa, and Salamone Rossi are all historical characters. Madame Europe and Salamone Rossi were siblings and both are thought to have died when the Jewish ghetto in Mantua was razed by German troops in 1630.
There is no evidence that Monteverdi ever let a girl sing in his chorus or that Father Kircher ever did anything for the emperor other than scientific research and musical management.
Fra Liberato's medical knowledge and treatments seemed crazy to his contemporaries, but they are closer to what we now know about germs and the body's ability to heal itself.
Saffron, mixed into a very specific elixir, was believed to be a cure for the plague, but there is no scientific evidence to support that.
There is at least one eye-witness account describing a merchant ship being assembled in the Arsenale in just a few hours.
When the average Venetian wanted to get a buzz on, the new party drug in town was coffee.
Venetians did bury their dead in the lagoon in some instances, but they usually cremated them first. Burying them under the streets was more usual, until the island of San Michele was dedicated as a cemetery in the nineteenth century. However, Jews were buried in the Jewish cemetery on the Lido long before that.
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