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The Mozart Conspiracy: Shock Me, Amadeus

March 14, 2011

The Mozart Conspiracy
Scott Mariani
$24.99 337 pages
Thanks to Ashley Hewlett at Touchstone for sending me a copy

The action, and more action, of The Mozart Conspiracy goes pelting along, loosely tied together around the idea of Mozart’s papers, which Somebody Sinister wants to find, and will stop at nothing to get. Leigh Llewellyn’s father, and brother, were the last to have these papers. And as she begins to research Mozart’s life and death, she becomes a target.

Fortunately, she has her old friend Ben, ex SAS and general heroic badass, watching her back. Because the action heats up around them very quickly. They zoom across Europe, pursued and pinpointed every time they make a phone call. The action, and ensuing violence, are relentless, so much so that the conspiracy feels only sketched in.

Who’s going to attack the fleeing pair next, and how, is more of a puzzle than the secrets tied into Mozart’s papers, or the ancient symbolism evoked by The Magic Flute. Which is fine. Pure action makes for a speedy, fun read. Although the violence gets to be a bit much. There’s a chase, or an explosion, or a gunshot, every few pages. (So much so that I wonder if it was the author’s antidote to writer’s block.)

The jacket copy and publicity buzz surrounding this book reference The DaVinci Code. I can see it. I liked The Mozart Conspiracy much better. Maybe because the conspiracy involved less torturing Catholic symbolism into a menacing shape. Maybe because at least one of the characters involved definitely belongs in a world of adrenaline-fueled chasing.

Maybe because the writing is better. The prose is definitely better in The Mozart Conspiracy, as are the ensemble of peripheral characters. From Eve, the woman crushed under the thumb of the villain, to Clara and Max, the young girl and her dog kidnapped to use as blackmail; it’s easy to worry whether these characters will survive the unrelenting violence.

Maybe more development of the mystery itself, how Mozart’s papers connect to a secret society still practicing ritual sacrifice; would have made this a more nuanced read. But sometimes, action packed and zooming adrenaline makes a perfectly fine book you can read in a weekend.

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