I couldn’t resist the lure of deadly secrets hidden in musical manuscripts, a tense car-jacking to the sounds of Schoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire” on the radio, and musicologists and piano tuners as starring characters.
Here’s one of my favorite lines from the book:
“Like the assault of the sudden vehement chord in Haydn’s Surprise Symphony, fear struck the piano tuner.”
Are you smiling or groaning? Both?
Beyond being a musical thriller, “The Chopin Manuscript” has an unusual concept. It’s a collaborative novel, with chapters by 15 different authors. Jeffrey Deaver wrote three chapters — one at the beginning and two providing the conclusion — while each other writer only penned one. I’m not familiar with any of these authors, but friends say that they are a big deal. I am outside my traditional genres here (science fiction and fantasy).
While I wasn’t too bothered by changes in style, I did get a bit lost in the number of characters and the continual plot twists. Probably because of all these complications, I never became very attached to any of the characters – one author would set up Faust as a villain, another as a secret hero, and then the following writers would flip him back and forth a few times (no, I’m not telling you where they landed).
Someone asked me if this book was “’The DaVinci Code’ of classical music.” I am happy to report that it is not. It’s a much more lighthearted endeavor, with no grand important narrative or point to prove, which is refreshing. But I do still wish it was a bit more coherent.
The audiobook version, read by Alfred Molina, has won several awards. I plan to give it a listen soon. It might make it even harder to keep track of all the characters, but it could also be a lot of fun.
“The Chopin Manuscript” is available at the Kanawha County Public Library on CD and as a large-print book.
UPDATE: Editor’s Note: For some more musical book suggestions, check out Mona’s post at the Classically Speaking blog on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s website.
Tags: audio book, Chopin, David Corbett, Davis Hewson, Erica Spindler, James Grady, Jeffrey Deaver, Jim Fusilli, John Gilstrap, John Ramsey Miller, Joseph Finder, large print, Lee Child, Lisa Scottoline, Mozart, musicology, P.J. Parrish, Peter Spiegelman, Ralph Pezzullo, S.J. Rozan, spies, suspense, thriller