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Death Before Compline by Sharan Newman
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Death Before Compline

by Sharan Newman

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“Readers looking for quality historical fiction ought to add Newman’s name to their lists of must-read authors. In addition to providing readers with a vivid look at life in France in the twelfth century, Newman also offers absorbing stories with well-drawn sympathetic characters.”
—Mystery Scene ( )
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  BagwynBooks | Feb 11, 2014 |
First Line: (From the Introduction) The seven stories in this collection were written between 1996 and 2011.

It's been a while since Sharan Newman's last Catherine Levendeur mystery, so I was thrilled to hear of this collection of short stories set in twelfth century Europe. This slim little volume begins with a special introduction in which Newman gives an overview of the series in its entirety. If I hadn't already read the books, this overview would have had me ordering them straight away.

Each of the seven stories focuses on an aspect of the family and of medieval France. The first, "The Beast Without," is based upon a story by the twelfth-century writer Marie de France. I felt as if I'd walked into a fairy tale, and as it so happens, "The Beast Without" is one of my favorites in this book.

"Conventual Spirit" takes place before the start of the mystery series and gives us a glimpse of Catherine in a convent in Brittany-- and why she didn't fit in with the nuns there. "Death Before Compline" is my other favorite in this selection and is the reason for the recipes that are included in the back of the book.

Each story begins a bit of background in which we learn that Newman wanted to explore a certain character's life, or that it was written with a certain theme in mind. I do enjoy this glimpses into the writing process, and each one adds to its short story.

Death Before Compline will appeal to all: those who are already fans of Catherine Levendeur, and those who have yet to read the books. In fact, these short stories are an excellent introduction to the series, so if you're an historical mystery lover who's thinking of trying Sharan Newman's books for the first time, this would be a good place to start. ( )
  cathyskye | Mar 5, 2013 |
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Book description
Sharan Newman’s reputation as a critically acclaimed writer of medieval mysteries continues with this collection of short stories, all previously published and collected here for the first time in Death Before Compline. The stories take us into 12th century Europe and show with sympathy and humor, the astounding variety of good intentions gone wrong and the corruption of human desires. Many of the stories feature Catherine LeVendeur, the beloved protagonist of ten of Newman’s novels, and Solomon, Catherine’s Jewish merchant cousin. These stories takes us into the day to day reality of medieval religious and family life, as it is lived by a variety of people: from nuns, noble people, scholars, courtiers, merchants, hermetic spinsters and children.
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Sharan Newman's reputation as a critically acclaimed writer of medieval mysteries continues with this collection of short stories, all previously published and collected here for the first time in Death Before Compline. The stories take us into 12th century Europe and show with sympathy and humor, the astounding variety of good intentions gone wrong and the corruption of human desires. Many of the stories feature Catherine LeVendeur, the beloved protagonist of ten of Newman's novels, and Solomon, Catherine's Jewish merchant cousin. These stories takes us into the day to day reality of medieval religious and family life, as it is lived by a variety of people: from nuns, noble people, scholars, courtiers, merchants, hermetic spinsters and children. Fans of the novels will find this collection delightful as the author explains the origins of these stories and the evolution of her protagonists in the novels; these tales also serve as a great introduction to her work for newcomers.… (more)

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