Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Paganini's Ghost by Paul Adam
Published 2010 by Minotaur Books
Source: my copy courtesy of my parents
Paganini – showman, womanizer, dazzling virtuoso – is one of the most charismatic characters in the history of classical music. His violin, il Cannone (the Cannon), is now kept in Genoa, Italy, where it is played only once every two years in a sold-out concert by the winner of an international competition.
This year, though, a Parisian art dealer is found dead in his hotel room the day after the concert. In his wallet is a scrap of sheet music, torn from a page that belongs to the competition’s winner. But how did the dead man get hold of it? And why?
Detective Antonio Guastafeste asks violin maker Gianni Castiglione to help him navigate the curious world of classical musicians, their priceless instruments, and the unsavory dealers who prey upon them. Together, Antonio and Gianni must unravel another mystery that has gone unanswered for over a century, one that may hold the answer to the modern-day murder.
This book was first recommended to me by my aunt and uncle in Rhode Island (I passed it along to you in May of 2010). I can see why they enjoyed it as it is set almost entirely in Italy. My aunt is of Italian descent and my uncle spent time in Italy when he was in the service. Add to that the fact that Adam doesn't just have his characters eat a meal, he makes you want to join them, even if it's just cheese and crackers (because, of course, it's Italian cheese, you know it's delicious!). And if all of that weren't enough, Paganini's Ghost is choke full of classical music references; in fact, that world is the key to solving a murder mystery. Which, I'm sure, is one of the reasons my parents enjoyed the book.
It was also one of the reasons I liked this book. I wonder if it might not be too much for some readers, although I suppose it's not much different than any other back story essential for a book's development. And in all of that classical music background are many of the clues readers have the opportunity to pick up on if they're reading carefully (evidently I wasn't reading carefully enough, I needed Antonio and Gianni to point them out for me).
Adam pulls his story in and out of history, in and out of Italy, as he draws you into his characters' lives and builds on the mysteries behind the murders. I enjoyed it so much I'm planning on reading the first book in the series, The Rainaldi Quartet, soon (which I have, don't ask me why I read them out of order).