Newman's writing is magical. Twelfth-century France, complete with a castle under siege, comes brilliantly alive in this latest Catherine LeVendeur mystery.

When his well begins to run dry, Catherine's grandfather fears an ancient curse. The patriarch calls his family home from their various corners of Europe, intent that they fulfill an ancient prophecy. However, the conditions of the prophecy are puzzling, and even as Catherine and her kin seek to unravel its riddles, more worldly concerns intrude. The castle is besieged, an heir is murdered and another gravely injured. Catherine must find a way to save the castle, solve the prophecy and unveil a murderer in the process.

No mere summary can do Newman's exquisite period details and meticulously nuanced plot justice. And main character Catherine is a delight. A woman fully rooted in her time, she's a compelling combination of loyalty, wisdom and tenacity that is truly timeless. (Dec. '04, 352 pp., $24.95)

Reviewed by: 
Cindy Harrison