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Death Comes as Epiphany [Paperback]

Sharan Newman
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug 1995
Catherine LeVendeur is a young novice-scholar at the Convent of the Paraclete. Beautiful, learned, willful, and stubborn, Catherine's natural curiosity and individualism have always set her apart. She has come to the convent to conquer her sin of pride, to pray, and to serve God. But service can come in many forms, and to save her Order, Catherine will risk much: disgrace and the wrath of family and Church.

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (Aug 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812522931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812522938
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 2.4 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 501,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A sweeping historical novel--meticulously researched with humor, richness, and detail."--Anne Perry
"Breathtakingly exciting and full of mystery and adventure." --"Los Angeles Times
"Be forewarned--Sharan Newman will change the way you think about the Middle Ages. Her Catherine LeVendeur series brings the twelfth century to life with compassion, intelligence, and wit, in tales rich with detail and unforgettable characters. Newman delivers an outstanding mystery in each and every book. This series is not to be missed!"--Jan Burke

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Customer Reviews

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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply one of the best mystery writers 29 Mar 1997
By A Customer
I am a big mystery reader and I am very picky. I read and later re-read "Death Comes As Epiphany" and loved it. Ms. Newman brings out the complexities and simplicities of medieval France and inspired me to do some of my own source reading. Believable characters, evocative settings, and a mystery that fooled me. What more could you ask for?
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I'm not necessarily a fan of mysteries but I am fond of the 12th century. The Catherine LeVedneur books are some of the most interesting and well researched fictional accounts of the Middle Ages that I've ever read. For instance, I have researched a great deal about Abbot Suger's chapel but it was only through these novels that it all "clicked" and I felt like I was there.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Our heroine, the Nun (aka Catherine), stumbles into the death of a stone-cutter during the building of the Abbot Suger's cathedral in Medieval France. With the aid of an itinerant, Anglo-Saxon stonecutter/student/?, with whom the Nun surprisingly develops a relationship - I am being sarcastic here - Catherine sets out to solve the mystery - and, oh yeah, to discover the whereabouts and condition of a stolen psalter. Along the way she encounters the usual "colorful" characters. The chief conceit of this novel is the relationship and intellects of Abelard and Heloise. We, the readers, are supposed to believe that the Nun is smart and capable of solving mysteries somehow because the combined intellects of the tragic twosome has rubbed off on her. (Were Abelard and Heloise renowned as sleuths?) The problem is that the Nun is quite unconvincing as a detective. Indeed, most of the novel has her careening from one situation and revelation to another quite as! if she hasn't a clue. And she gets to go lots of extraordinary places quite without trouble - as we know young nuns did in the Middle Ages. In one instance, she finds herself alone in the hut and nearly in the clutches of a randy satanist! Shades of Harlequin romance! This is not a good mystery - nor is it a good read. The author seems intent on packing the odyssey of a young woman, whom she makes into a nun, with "color" without any real attention being paid to character and plot-development. But then again the "color" is not well-researched and we get modern impressions anachronized more than we get a sense of Medieval France. The author would do well to observe the ingredients of a Falconer or a Brother Caedfael, or perhaps, most pertinent of all, Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma. Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History 7 July 2000
By Edward Alexander Gerster - Published on Amazon.com
As the first volume in the adventures of Catherine LeVendeur, this book is an exceptional escape into medieval France. As a mystery, the plot is very good but not exceptionally sophisticated. The best service is rendered as an introduction to the further mysteries in this series, which gain in sophistication and quality with each new book. The author's later books (The Devil's Door, The Wandering Arm, and Strong As Death) are much enjoyable for having read this volume first. A truly enjoyable series that educates as well as entertains.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Medieval Catherine is Compelling and Quirky! 27 Oct 2002
By Lori L. Lake - Published on Amazon.com
Catherine LeVendeur, an 18-year old novice at the French Convent at Paraclete, is enlisted by the famous abbess Heloise to go on a mission to the Abbey in her hometown. A psalter prepared at the convent, which Catherine was largely responsible for, has been altered in a way that accuses the famous scholar Abelard-and Heloise as well-of heresy, and Catherine is to inspect it and possibly retrieve it. To carry out Heloise's plan, Catherine must return home under the guise of being disgraced for being willful and disobedient. Once at home, her mother refuses to acknowledge her out of shame, and her father takes her to task for bad behavior. Luckily, her handsome uncle Roger, her 16-year-old sister, and an old sculptor working on the construction of a new church are sympathetic. Before Catherine can do much reconnaissance concerning the psalter, however, the sculptor dies under suspicious circumstances, and at this point, the story picks up speed as mysterious circumstances start piling up. Not knowing whom to trust, Catherine must keep her own counsel, though she is determined to "kidnap" the psalter from the Abbey to get it to Abelard as well as find out if the sculptor's death was an accident or something more sinister. Two more murders, a possible murder attempt upon Catherine, a mysterious stonemason, various knights, holy men, thieves, and rioters, along with a touch of romance, family politics, and political intrigue all come together in this lively and entertaining medieval mystery.
Set in 1139 France, the story holds true to the gender limitations of the era while at the same time allowing Catherine spunk and forthrightness that surely many women back then possessed. She plans to become a nun, instinctively knowing that the convent is one of the few places where she can read and think and reason about philosophy and ethical matters without censure. But she never counted on what would happen to her in the outside world upon leaving the safety of the cloisters.
This is an excellent mystery adventure, well told, by a writer with considerable skill and a remarkable background in medieval history. The setting, plot and characterizations ring true, and we never get bogged down in the mundane historical recitations to which many other novelists might subject the reader. Instead, like Ellis Peters' fine medieval mysteries, this top-notch novel rolls along toward a satisfying conclusion which left this reviewer wanting more. It is fortunate that this is merely the first in a series of books Newman has written about Catherine LeVendeur. I recommend it highly.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catherine Le Vendeur 25 Dec 2001
By stardustraven - Published on Amazon.com
With 'Death comes as Epiphany'' author Sharan Newman launched the medieval Catherine Le Vendeur mystery series. Set in twelfth century France, the reader is introduced to its fictional,strong and engaging heroine Catherine, daughter of merchant Hubert Le Vendeur, she's a novice in the convent of Le Paraclete (and about to take her vows and renounce the world).
When on an assignment for Abbess Heloise, Catherine faces many dark and confusing secrets. Such as for instance: Hubert's Jewish ancestry or the intense feelings of maternal uncle Roger for her own person.
A thoroughly researched, three-dimensional novel, which doesn't shun the grittier and nastier aspects of medieval life. Catherine and her family intermingle effortlessly with historical characters like: Heloise, Abelard or the Abbot Suger. Further the author introduces us to the series other regulars: first of all Edgar, Catherine's future husband (a laird's son hailing from Scotland), with whom Catherine will form a sleuthing partnership, her father Hubert (a converted Jew), her younger sister Agnes, her Jewish aunt, uncle and cousin: Johannah, Eliazar and Solomon.
With Catherine Ms. Newman portrays a strong and highly educated heroine who is nevertheless firmly rooted in her own time. The courtship and eventual marrriage of Catherine and Edgar is realistically and playfully developed. They certainly enjoy a true and wonderful chemistry.
For me Catherine is a truly memorable heroine and everytime I read her adventures with pleasure. Sleuthing with Catherine and Edgar simply never bores.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming and Original 26 Jun 2002
By Lark Howard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I happened on the unabridged audio book and was hooked immediately. The medieval French setting of the book, the historical characters of Abelard and Heloise, the delightful Catherine and Edgar, and a well-crafted mystery combine to make this a very satisfying read. The historical and cultural detail of daily life in Paris in that time was especially fasinating. That Ms. Newman is first a historian and second a mystery writer sets this series above the bulk of the genre and has made me a devoted follower. In fact, on our last trip to France I persuaded my husband to detour off our route to visit the Paraclete!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Beginning to a Great Series 30 Aug 2001
By Neker - Published on Amazon.com
I truely enjoyed reading this first in a series. Mostly because I found it wonderful to have an author who truely knows her history. Newman really takes the time to understand and see the places and people before she uses them as her background. This first book I found to be a bit bumpy with the action and plot, but she does set up a good character line and introduces her main characters and their relationships with each other for her future books. Having read all the books thus far in this series, I've found each one to be better than the last. I suppose some authors do improve with age and are not just "One Hit Wonders."
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