Death Before Compline


Mysteries abound in this compilation of previously published medieval short stories. A wolf that seems to be much more than a normal beast. Muddy footprints that keep reappearing on the convent’s clean floor. A dismembered body found packed into a wine barrel. A beloved woman found dead in the ruins of her burned-down house. Construction delays, and then a death at the site of a new abbey. A bride whose previous three suitors have all died of mysterious causes. Trouble among the philosophers of Arab Cordoba. Each of these provides a springboard for its own short story.

Most of the tales follow Catherine LeVendeur, the heroine of Newman’s novels. We see her solving mysteries both at home and abroad, as a young woman, as a lay sister, and later as a mother. The last two follow one of Catherine’s companions, a Jew named Solomon. Seven short stories, an introduction, a collection of medieval recipes, and a bibliography spread out over only 120 pages make for a quick read. Though murder is at the core of most of the mysteries, the overall tone of Death Before Compline is a light one, at least with Catherine’s stories. Solomon’s are darker and more thoughtful.

Newman is an obvious master of the 12th-century medieval setting. She knows her stuff and she knows her characters. Readers looking for something medieval but light, something that can be read in only a sitting or two, will enjoy it, as will Newman’s fans.

Share this review

Now available in paperback (UK) or on Kindle

Jenny Barden's masterful novel about the lost colony of Roanoke.







(US) $9.95

(US) 9780866988001




Appeared in

Reviewed by