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Heresy: A Catherine LeVendeur Mystery (Catherine Levendeur Mysteries) Hardcover – December 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Series: Catherine Levendeur Mysteries (Book 8)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books; 1st edition (December 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765302462
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765302465
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,344,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Uprooted from their Paris home by threat of disease and the economic side effects of the latest Crusade, Catherine LeVendeur and her family take shelter in the convent headed by her friend Heloise. Traveling with them in disguise is Heloise and Abelard's son, Astrolabe, who has been wrongfully accused of raping and murdering a well-born woman abducted from another convent. Catherine's search for whoever is trying to discredit Heloise via Astrolabe threatens to expose her own dangerous secret-that her father is Jewish. In Newman's eighth LeVendeur mystery (following To Wear the White Cloak), readers will love the total immersion into medieval history through character, surroundings, turbulent events, and culture. Strongly recommended for fans of historical mysteries.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Newman's extensive historical research, apparent in the myriad details and a hefty list of acknowledgments, lends a strongly authentic tone to her story of twelfth-century France, and her skillful writing ensures that these details serve to bring the period alive. The eighth entry in the series finds a pregnant Catherine Le Vendeur preparing to leave home on a potentially dangerous journey. With the economy suffering in France, Catherine's merchant husband, Edgar, and her cousin Solomon are forced to go to Spain to find and buy luxury goods to sell. To ensure their safety, Catherine and her two children must stay at a convent run by her close friend Heloise, the abbess. Newman expertly weaves together numerous subplots, the main one involving the murder of Cecile, who had been living with a band of heretics in order to escape a cruel lord who stole her from a convent. Falsely accused of her murder is Astrolabe, Heloise's son, and Catherine soon gets involved in helping to clear his name. A fascinating and suspenseful story made even more riveting by its historical bent. Jenny McLarin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author



Sharan Newman is a medieval historian and author. She took her Master's degree in Medieval Literature at Michigan State University and then did her doctoral work at the University of California at Santa Barbara in Medieval Studies, specializing in twelfth-century France. She is a member of the Medieval Academy and the Medieval Association of the Pacific.

Rather than teach, Newman chose to use her education to write novels set in the Middle Ages, including three Arthurian fantasies and ten mysteries set in twelfth-century France, featuring Catherine LeVendeur a one-time student of Heloise at the Paraclete, her husband, Edgar, an Anglo-Scot and Solomon, a Jewish merchant of Paris. The books focus on the life of the bourgeoisie and minor nobility and also the uneasy relations between Christians and Jews at that time. They also incorporate events of the twelfth-century such as the Second Crusade and the rise of the Cathars.

For these books, Newman has done research at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris where she is a Grand Lecteur, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique France Méridionale et Espagne at the University of Toulouse and the Institute for Jewish History at the University of Trier, as well as many departmental archives.

The Catherine Levendeur mysteries have been nominated for many awards. Sharan won the Macavity Award for best first mystery for "Death Comes As Epiphany" and the Herodotus Award for best historical mystery of 1998 for Cursed in the Blood. The most recent book in the series The Witch in the Well won the Bruce Alexander award for best Historical mystery of 2004.

Just for a change, she set her most recent mystery, The Shanghai Tunnel (Forge 2008) in Portland. Oregon in 1868.

Newman has written a non-fiction book, The Real History Behind the Da Vinci Code, Berkley 2005. It is in encyclopedia format and gives information on various topics mentioned in Dan Brown's novel and has been translated worldwide. For this she appeared on radio and television programs internationally. She has also appeared on several documentaries about the book. Following on that she wrote the Real History Behind the Templars published by Berkley in September of 2007. It was while doing the research for this book that she noticed how important Queen Melisende was to the Kingdome of Jerusalem and how little had been written about her. She is currently working on a biography of Melisende, the first native-born queen and first female ruler of Crusader Jerusalem. This will be published in early 2014.

Her most recent non-fiction is The Real History of the End of the World, Berkley, 2010. She has kept abreast of the latest threats to our continued existence on her blog, Apocalypses and Other Thoughts, which can be reached through her website.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Maye Vanarsdel on April 22, 2003
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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Lord on March 7, 2003
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Vilches on September 16, 2004
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.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on December 17, 2002
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
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