Before Patricia Cornwell, before CSI, did anybody read dead bodies or examine them for traces of their killer? Yes, as it happens. Where there are bodies, there are secrets and where there are secrets, there are readers. Gaudinus the African, for example, who remembers people only by diseases, and greets his visitor from Palermo, the personal secretary and keeper of the King’s royal secrets such:
“Hemorrhoids!!” He said triumphantly, at last. “You had piles. How are they?”
Hemorrhoids distinguishes Mordechai Fils Barachia, who brings news of the murders of children in Henry II’s England. Representing the King of Sicily, Mordechai calls for a medical examiner, a reader and decoder of dead bodies, a Mistress of the Art of the Dead, to go to England and find out if indeed it is the Jews are the murderers of children.