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Strong as Death (Catherine Levendeur Mysteries) Mass Market Paperback – Sep 1997


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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (Sept. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812539354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812539356
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 2.6 x 17.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,677,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Fourth in a brilliant series, sparkling with historical tidbits and insight... totally absorbing adventure."--"Chicago Sun-Times""Readers who have enjoyed Sharan Newman's historical mystery series will not want to miss out on her latest and best work to date medieval mysteries to come along in years."--"The Midwest Book Review"

About the Author

Sharan Newman won "Romantic Times" magazine's Career Achievement Award for Historical Mystery in 1999. She lives in Oregon.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 July 1997
Format: Hardcover
I've read many medieval murder mysteries, and I found this one in particular and all the Catherine LeVendeur novels especially compelling. The detail is so rich that you begin almost to smell the smells and hear the sounds of the middle ages. The protagonists are not just modern-day people plunked into a medieval setting--they think like medievals. And they transport the reader as effectively as any characters can to a very different time and place. Not only is this a must read, it's a must read again and again. Sharan Newman should quit her day job and write full time. Her research is meticulous and pays off in an amazing array of rich and compelling detail. Read this book!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 15 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
One of the best medieval murder mysteries I've ever read! 26 July 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I've read many medieval murder mysteries, and I found this one in particular and all the Catherine LeVendeur novels especially compelling. The detail is so rich that you begin almost to smell the smells and hear the sounds of the middle ages. The protagonists are not just modern-day people plunked into a medieval setting--they think like medievals. And they transport the reader as effectively as any characters can to a very different time and place. Not only is this a must read, it's a must read again and again. Sharan Newman should quit her day job and write full time. Her research is meticulous and pays off in an amazing array of rich and compelling detail. Read this book
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
For Love is Strong as Death; jealousy is cruel as the grave. 7 July 2000
By Edward Alexander Gerster - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As fourth in the series of the Catherine LeVendeur mysteries, it is the least typical in setting and theme. The adventures along the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compestela in Spain from Catherine and Edgar's home in France are fascinating historically aside from the 'mystery' of the dying crusaders. The complexity of interpersonal relationships is stronger here than in the first three books, showing both the authors development, and the development of the characters. To fully understand the character's motivations, I would highly recommend reading the first three books in this series first (Death Comes as an Epiphany, The Devil's Door, and The Wandering Arm).
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
a visit to St. James 13 Sept. 2004
By Linda Pagliuco - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although this book goes on a bit too long, the finely wrought detail about life in the middle ages makes the read worthwhile. As a murder mystery, Strong as Death is fairly easy to decipher. But as other Amazon reviewers have explained so well, Sharan Newman's forte lies in her ability to convey the atmosphere and ambience of everyday life in the 12th century. Her characterization of myriad individuals, nationalities, religions, professions, and relationships is sensitive and credible. Her treatment of the ever present conflict between Jews, Christians, and Muslims appears fair and balanced. Newman's prose style is flowing and enables the reader to become immersed right from the start. Well-worth a look.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Believable hero and heroine, 12th century France and Spain 23 Jan. 2003
By bookjunkiereviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I discovered this series a while back, with the second book DEVIL'S DOOR (in which the hero and heroine are married, and in which one Walter de Grancy, later to play a part in THE DIFFICULT SAINT) also makes an appearance. After reading the first two books, I wandered off to other series, notably those by Margaret Frazer (the Sister Frevisse series, set in England of the 1400s). My love affair with medieval historical mysteries began with Ellis Peters, however, and in terms of the attitudes and the depth of historical research, Sharan Newman's series comes closest.
STRONG AS DEATH is a later story, and *not* one I recommend that beginners to the series should start with. [Try the first book DEATH COMES AS EPIPHANY, or the second DEVIL'S DOOR]. However, this is a fascinating book in many ways, in that it sheds light not only on the complex Christian-Jewish relations existing in 12th century France, but also the further complications of the war against the Moors (or Saracens) in Spain.
Strong as Death is one of those books that is a bit hard to evaluate. As a depiction of a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (the shrine of St James, and one which continues to be one of the holiest pilgrimage shrines), this book is indeed masterly. As a depiction of the married life of Edgar and Catherine (both with their own "baggage"), this book is also masterly. I have never felt their love more, than when realizing that Edgar must conquer his fear of heights - which I share - and that Catherine must learn how to address this fear sensitively (when she is anything but afraid of climbing). And the pilgrimage involves a trip through the Pyrenees, quite apart from any other adventures.
Where the book fails for me is is in the motivation of the murderer. I am afraid that this was a little harder to believe in, although the reason for the crime became transparent to me shortly. [The motivation was not such a shocker, as it was in DEVIL'S DOOR, for example]. I also found the way in which the murderer and the final victim(s) confronted each other to be slightly less credible than I would have wished - although it was in keeping with the murderer's previous actions.
Nevertheless, for the beautiful descriptions of the pilgrimage journey alone, this book is a keeper, to be put up right next to Ellis Peter's THE VIRGIN IN THE ICE. If you love this period - 12th century France and Spain - this book is highly recommended for its insights into the medieval mind and its vignettes of daily life. I look forward to more of Catherine LeVendeur.
Medieval Mystery tied to the "Way of St. James" 17 Nov. 2011
By Clif - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a historical novel that takes place in southern France and northern Spain in the year 1142. This happens to be the year Peter Abelard (of Abelard and Heloise fame) died which is noted in this book. However, the main historical character being followed by this book is Peter the Venerable (1092-1156). The book focuses on his journey to Spain that year to meet with translators to make arrangements to translate the Arabic Qur'an (Koran) into Latin. Some scholars consider this to be a momentous event in the intellectual history of Europe. This is about the time when some of the writings of Aristotle (and other ancients) were being translated into Latin for the first time after being lost in the years following the fall of the Roman Empire. This was a time when the Islamic scholars were more advanced than scholars of western Christendom.

However, a warning to history buffs, the history in this book is only a backdrop to a fictional murder mystery plot. It is the fourth in a series of ten books in the "Catherine LeVendeur Series" by Sharan Newman. Sharan Newman goes out of her way to make the historical setting historically accurate. Much of the book takes place within the context of a traveling caravan on a pilgrimage to pray at the fabled Spanish shrine of Santiago de Compostela. Placing the story within the setting of a pilgrimage reminds me of The Canterbury Tales. It's a context in which a wide variety of characters can be placed in close proximity, and thus is a natural setting to construct a fictional murder mystery plot. A traveling group containing multiple suspects was sort of reminiscent of Murder on the Orient Express. There's even a cliff-hanger scene in the story to get the reader's adrenaline flowing.

I am impressed with the author's ability to portray medieval religious beliefs (including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) with sensitivity and realism. She is able to create sympathetic feelings within 21st Century readers for medieval religion even though the religious thinking of the time appears narrow and harsh to most modern minds. Also, by tying the book to the "Way of St. James" she has written a book about a pilgrimage that many people take today. (One source says 93,921 people made the pilgrimage in 2005). Therefore I decided to give this book four stars even though I usually limit murder mysteries to three stars because I consider the genre to be frivolous literature.
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