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Heresy (Catherine Levendeur Mysteries) Mass Market Paperback – 6 Mar 2007


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Mass Market Paperback, 6 Mar 2007
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (6 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765354683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765354686
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 2.7 x 16.7 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,080,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 9 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Historical Mystery 22 April 2003
By Maye Vanarsdel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A fascinating historical mystery set in twelfth-century France, this book was an excellent view into the backstage maneuverings of the Council of Reims, which took place during the second crusade.
This was the crusade that the fascinating Eleanor of Aquitaine went on with her first husband, before her divorce and marriage to Henry ( the one who had Thomas Beckett disposed of).
The mystery revolves around Astrolabe, the son of Heloise and Abelard, and whether or not he will be accused of Heresy, as was his famous father. Abelard, Astrolabe's father, was the influential and charismatic leader of a particular approach to theocracy that was challenged through the Heresy trial of the Bishop of Poitiers during the council of Reims.
This book is part of a series of novels about Catherine LeVendeur, a devout Catholic, whose family's Jewish roots, put her in peril. Catherine is a well-educated middle-class wife, whose family is dependent upon their hidden Jewish connections in order to conduct business in silks and spices. Catherine at one time, was attracted to convent life, and was well educated (for her time, and for a woman) in Latin and Church doctrine. She is instrumental in resolving the mystery due to her background and her ability to be overlooked by clerics who feel that discussing things in Latin protects them from eavesdroppers.
I liked this book because the heroine was effective without violating the standards of female conduct for the time and place of the setting. Sharan Newman is a consummate author and historian who makes history go down smoothly and as a pleasurable read.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Good strong mystery but not Newman's best 7 Mar. 2003
By A. Lord - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Sharan Newman is a rarity�a writer of historical fiction who really knows her history. While Newman does an amazing job at recreating twelfth-century France, the best part of her books is that she never cheats�her characters are very much products of medieval society. Newman never has them endorse modern views just so that the reader will be able to relate to the character.
That said, Heresy is not Newman's best book (but the level she sets is really high so a weak book by Sharan Newman is the equivalent of a great book by other historical murder mystery writers). I love the characters Newman has created. Catherine, her heroine, is the daughter of a devout Catholic woman and a Jewish convert. Rampant anti-Semitism means that Catherine keeps her Jewish roots hidden�but she has close ties to her Jewish relatives. For me, this is one of the most fascinating parts of Newman's works�the inter-play between the Christian and Jewish worlds of medieval France.
Newman's primary interests tho' are with the range of Christian belief in medieval France and her murder mysteries often deal with heresy, the threat of heresy or heretical groups. This book is no exception�the lead character is the son of Heloise and Abelard. Suspected of murder after consorting with a group of heretics, Astrolabe is on the run and he turns to Catherine and her family for help.
The tensions in this mystery were not as strong as they could have been (I was less interested in Astrolabe than I was in the other characters). If you've read Newman's other books, you'll probably enjoy this one but if you are new to her work, try reading A Difficult Saint or any of her earlier works first.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Excellent history, OK Mystery 17 Sept. 2004
By J. Vilches - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Twelfth century Paris is keenly feeling financial woes brought on by the Crusade. Catherine's husband Edgar must personally go to Spain for new trade goods, so Catherine leaves Paris with their children and household to stay at the abbey of her friend and mentor Heloise. But it's not destined to be a simple journey - even as she makes travel plans, Heloise's son Astrolabe shows up on the doorstep, in danger of being accused of heresy and murder. Astrolabe travels with them in disguise to reach his mother. Then at Heloise's request, they travel on to Reims where the pope, bishops, and a horde of other religious and secular leaders are convening for a council. Here Catherine and her sister-in-law Margaret must search for the truth and defend Astrolabe's innocence before he ends up facing the judgment of the Council.

This is the eighth book in the Catherine series, and there is so much history and character development along the way that new readers will probably want to start at the beginning (Death Comes as Epiphany) to get the most out of the series. As usual with Newman, the reader is immersed into historical details that make 12th century France come alive. It has a very genuine feel and characters stay consistent with the time period. Newman is at her best with characterization and showing the issues of the times - moral, political, and religious. The consequences of heresies of different flavors and degrees are woven throughout the book. This probably sounds fairly heavy, but Newman manages to balance it pretty well with both the mystery at hand and with scenes from daily life. Catherine continues to be a delightful and strong heroine, and I like the way her personality is still evolving as motherhood and other influences come into play.

Newman must be given full credit for maintaining originality - she hasn't fallen into the trap of reusing the same plot as with many running mystery series. However, Heresy is not Newman's strongest book. The writing is smooth and the plot flows along nicely, but the mystery seemed second to the rest of it and not as compelling as earlier entries in the series. One issue is that Edgar and Solomon (key players in many of the earlier books) are gone on their trading trip for most of the book. Without the richly drawn relationship between Edgar and Catherine, the middle of the book feels flat at times. Margaret's distress at her impending arranged marriage and the peril of Catherine's pregnancy don't really provide enough tension to carry the book when the main mystery fizzles. Read this more for the history than the mystery.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
delightful twelfth century France mystery 17 Dec. 2002
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Twelfth century France is feeling the affects of all the wars that wipe out trading. Edgar and his partner Solomon travel to Spain to pick up trade goods, leaving Catherine and the children to stay in their Paris home. When illness plagues the city Catherine and her family travel to the convent of Paraclate, run by her old friend Heloise who was once the wife of the heretic Abelard.
Instead of having a relaxing time visiting an old friend, Heloise prevails upon Catherine to help her son Astrolobe who is being framed for a murder he didn't commit. Since Catherine considers Heloise's son a good friend, she agrees to do all she can to find out who Astrolobe's enemies actually are and expose them for the liars they are. In the course of her investigation, Catherine discovers that Astrolobe is going to be tried before the pope and the council of Reims who are trying to weed out heretics.
Twelfth century France comes alive between the pages of HERESY, the latest installment in the Catherine Le Vendeur mysteries. Although Catherine is in her second trimester of pregnancy, she doesn't allow her condition to stop her from trying to find evidence that would clear her friend's son. The mystery itself is complex and mesmerizing but the look into the relationship between religion and politics is totally enthralling.
Harriet Klausner
Certainly not my favourite LeVendeur Mystery 22 Jun. 2004
By S. Schwartz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I too believe that this book is not one of Newman's best efforts. I found it difficult to read and somewhat disjointed. Even so, Newman's impeccable research shows itself in the book. Part of the problem may be that we don't see much of Edgar or Soloman either in this book. The book focuses on Catherine and her sister-in-law Margaret as they try to unravel why someone is trying to frame their particular friend Astrolabe for heresy. Catherine and Margaret journey to Riems where a big council is taking place and while there they uncover plots and counterplots and another murder or two. Ms. Newman's writing is usually very good and she brings her people to life , but in this book, I found that that talent was strangely lacking. Everyone was running around and not accomplishing much. This series is still very much worth a read, and this book is important to read in order that we follow the storyline that Ms. Newman is laying out. I certainly look forward to the next one.
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