Franklin, Ariana - 'The Death Maze'
This book follows the very successful previous book MISTRESS OF THE ART OF DEATH. It is the year 1172 and although Adelia wants to get back to Salerno in her own country of Sicily, King Henry II demands that she and her assistants remain in England to investigate another murder. As a doctor, at that time she was viewed almost as a witch. However, since the last adventure things have moved on with Adelia, she now has an illegitimate baby and even worse in 12th century England the father happens to be a Bishop of the Catholic Church!!
Henry Plantagenet, the King is married to Eleanor of Aquitaine who had formerly been married to Louis, King of France. She is a very rich woman in her own right and is in revolt against her husband, as are her eight children. She has plotted to kill Rosamund the favourite mistress of Henry with poison and he sends Adelia to investigate the murder with the hope that he can avoid having to go to war with his wife.
So Adelia with her assistants and accompanied by Rowley, the Bishop, leave the Fenlands of Cambridgeshire and journey in the bleakest of Winter with icy snow on the grounds to Wormhold Tower near Oxford. Here they have to discover a way through a maze around the Tower and then enter to examine the frozen remains of Rosamund.
This is a very stimulating story once you get past the author's rather tedious attempt to bring her reader up to date with what occurred in the previous book. American authors are much better at introducing past narratives once the reader has been hooked into starting to read the present story, but alas a lot of British authors feel their readers should trudge through fifty pages of introduction before the story really gets under way, and this should not happen! As it was I read the first fifty or so pages then went away for a week and did other things. Then I picked up the book where I had left off, but by and large had forgotten the earlier reading. It did not reduce my enjoyment of the story one bit!!
The story is as equally good as her first if not better and the author writes the story with such a head for historical detail that one is immediately transported to the wintry conditions of a chilly December in the 12th century. I hope she continues to write such good novels.
Terry Halligan, England