I recently had a few days vacation, and on one of them, I found myself in a bookstore. At the end of an aisle, I saw a paperback called Mozart’s Last Aria. Right above the title were three sinister words meant to hook fans of the film: Amadeus is over. A recommendation from Tess Gerritsen hung above the portrait of a woman in a dress with a large flowing skirt, whose back was to the reader.
I was intrigued, and browsed a little. After getting home, I went straight to the library catalog to place a request on it. I’ve just finished it, and if you love the film Amadeus, or Mozart, you should read this. The main character is Mozart’s prodigiously talented sister, Nannerl, who traveled throughout Europe, performing with him when they were children. The novel is an imaginative theory of how Mozart might have died.
While I usually enjoy historical fiction, sometimes I don’t enjoy fiction based on the lives of classical musicians because authors misuse musical terminology, their portrait of a famous musician contains factual errors that put me off, or the depiction rings false. For me, Matt Rees (also the author of a popular series of Omar Yussef crime novels ) gets it right from beginning to end. His descriptions of performances are completely credible. His musical references always serve to enhance the story, but they won’t bog down a reader who hasn’t studied music. The mystery of who might have been responsible for Mozart’s death is the main event.
Readers of cozies should give this a try too, if the subject matter grabs you. There’s not a lot of violence here, no gore, and hardly any language which would offend. There is a well developed mystery which does in some way seem to me like a sequel to the Milos Forman film (whether or not this was the author’s intention). I expect I’ll be reading more about Mozart and his family in the months to come. Best of all, I know I’ll be listening to more Mozart.