Heaven has a way of playing with mortals. When the mummified arm of St. Aldhelm is stolen from the Salisbury Cathedral in England, Catherine LeVendeur must find the lost reliquary to save those she loves and to do so, she must finally confront and come to terms with her family's Jewish heritage. The first Catherine Le Vendeur mystery to appear in trade paperback, The Wandering Arm is an absorbing, richly authentic adventure.
The third in a series, this has Catherine LeVendeur continuing her detecting ways in medieval France. Newman explains in an Afterword about her fiction: "Because I am also a historian, this book is placed as accurately as possible within my vision of a particular time and place in history." She entertains while realistically presenting Paris and environs in winter, 1141. An aspirant for a bishopric takes a saint's relic from Salisbury to further his overwhelming ambition. St. Aldhelm's arm soon disappears, but suspicions about its whereabouts finally focus on Paris. Catherine is a Christian, while many of her family are Jews in a country that only tolerates them. Because of her husband's skillful hands, he is asked to infiltrate a group in the city reshaping church vessels, and he learns the intricacies of metalworking. When a villain dies of poisoning, there is a connection with Catherine's uncle, Eliazar, and various relatives and acquaintances join Catherine and her husband in the search for the killer and for the holy relic. The prologue and each of the book's 20 chapters are preceded by a brief description of site and a pertinent classical quotation in its original language and in English. A map of 12th-century Paris guides the reader willing to make this challenging journey. (a Catherine LeVendeur mystery) KLIATT Codes: ARecommended for advanced students, and adults. 1995, Tor, Forge, 351p., $14.95. Ages 17 to adult. Reviewer: Maureen K. Griffin; Researcher, Everett, MA , November 2001 (Vol. 35, No. 6)