The Outcast Dove
Although subtitled “A Catherine LeVendeur Mystery,” Catherine plays virtually no role in Newman’s new novel, the ninth in this marvelous series. Indeed, Solomon, Catherine’s cousin, is the novel’s primary focus – Solomon, a Jew who has no desire to keep the dietary laws and who has problems with the very tenets of his faith, who is the son of a man who has converted and become a monk, who is the nephew of Catherine’s father, Hubert, who has returned to his roots and is now studying Torah – Solomon who is, perhaps, the most complex of Newman’s characters in the LeVendeur novels. It is Solomon who has been drawn into a scheme to rescue a Jewish woman taken as a slave by the Christians during the conquest of the Spanish city of Almeria, and by so doing, is forced to confront all he holds as truth and, finally, come to grips with who he is.
The hostility between Jews and Christians and the LeVendeur family’s fear of discovery as Jewish is palpable in Newman’s books. Here, those tensions are personalized to the extreme. Solomon comes face-to-face with his faith, his principles, his very morality and essence. The outcome is fascinating.
Although I admit that I missed Catherine and Edgar and their brood in these pages, Newman’s decision to build an entire story around Solomon was brilliant. This is probably one of my favorite LeVendeur books, and an absolute must if you love this series.