the guardian Fri 17 April 2009
Novels set during what we have recently learned to call "snow events" have a particular charm, and The Death Maze is a wonderful addition to this chilly genre, confirming Franklin as one of the very best creators of medieval whodunits writing today. Resourceful Adelia, graduate of medicine from the University of Salerno, is summoned from her Fenland home to unravel the attempted poisoning of Henry II's favourite mistress. Rosamund Clifford has been hidden away in the Wormhold, a suitably phallic tower in the midst of an almost impenetrable maze. As well as having a sophisticated understanding of Freudian imagery, Adelia absorbs languages like blotting paper, hacks off gangrenous limbs with gusto, and plunges into the maze of murders and betrayal engendered by Henry's marital problems with Eleanor of Aquitaine. The snow falls, the death toll mounts, Bishop Rowley forgets his vow of chastity and the Thames freezes over in this wonderfully atmospheric, fast-paced and intelligent recreation of a vanished world.