TO WEAR THE WHITE CLOAK by SHARAN NEWMAN
A CATHERINE LeVENDEUR MYSTERY
Forge, Tom Doherty Associates, October 2000
When she and her family return to Paris, Catherine LeVendeur finds a corpse in her counting room. Strangely, no one recognizes or claims the body, even though it is dressed in the white cloak of the Knights Templar. Always slightly suspect because of her Jewish ancestry, Catherine must discover the truth about the body before she and her husband Edgar lose everything.
Catherine's long-time enemy Jehan, a crazy knight, lets Catherine know that he intends to destroy her. She knows Jehan suspects that her father has returned to his Jewish roots. Exposure would destroy the family and result in her father's execution. Still, Catherine cannot connect Jehan to the murder.
In TO WEAR THE WHITE CLOAK, Sharan Newman has woven an intriguing mystery about one of the most interesting periods in European history. All of Western Europe is uniting in a crusade to save the holy lands, but constant bickering at every level slows the crusaders' departure. The Knights Templar have begun their rise to power, still allied with France and not yet accused of heresy. Catherine and Edgar move amongst key figures of political, religious, and literary history. The conflict between Catholic and Jew, noble and peasant, so much a part of Medieval Europe, runs through this historical mystery.
Newman works hard to show Catherine and Edgar as multi-dimensional characters. Edgar has abandoned his noble roots to become a merchant. He and Catherine recently lost a baby and are still grieving. At times, however,the personal threatens to overwhelm the plot. Still, Newman pulls everything together in an exciting mystery climax (with the standard assembly of suspects and unexpected discovery). The chapter headings, with a listing of Saint days add an amusing touch to this light mystery.
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