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Showing 1-10 of 14 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 34 reviews
on July 12, 2011
I agree with other reviewers who suspect that Wesley Stace really wanted to write about the music history of the period and only secondarily to craft a murder mystery. I read a lot of mysteries, and I thought that aspect of the book was less than stellar. The music history part seemed very knowledgeable - although I'm only an amateur musician, I appreciated reading about opera and composers in the time period covered. The author weaves the fictional part of the music story into the real historical part seamlessly. [Spoiler Alert] As a mystery fan, though, I suspected that the narrator was less than trustworthy from the start, although I didn't work out the true significance of his involvement. In The Body in the Library, Agatha Christie gives us what I consider a fine example of a narrator who truly misleads the reader in fine fashion. By contrast, Leslie Shepherd, the narrator in this book, was suspect and not believable from the first. Also, the character of Miriam was, in my opinion, not really believable in her suddenly passionate involvement with Jessold; further, Shepherd's reaction to their affair was so strangely muted. I feel the plotted mystery is weak and agree that the reader has to slog a bit to get to the final outcome. It's not a bad mystery, but it isn't a great one.
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on July 25, 2011
At first i thought that this novel gave away its game too early, but that is only because I didn't understand the game. It was written for knowledgeable music lovers and hardcore mystery readers, and as others have commented, this is a difficult combination to carry off. The music commentary is excellent and extensive; the mystery proceeds with cunning misdirection. To say more would be unfair to potential readers, but I would urge mystery lovers to tolerate the occasional loungers and try not to skip anything, since this is above all a novel of voice and manners. The patient reader will gradually glimpse the story being told and will be rewarded with an amazing denouement. SEMI-SPOILER At the end, the author acknowledges many of his sources, but omits one that I think he must have known, the film "Laura."
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on March 17, 2012
I very much enjoyed this book. Fair warning: the action moves slowly at the beginning, and my interest picked up as I moved further through the book.

I wanted to comment on one aspect of Stace's writing that I haven't seen mentioned in discussions of this book. The author has an obvious love of language, and one way in which he demonstrates this love is by taking great authorial license with the names of the characters. Many mainstream movies and pulp novels will name a main character in such a way as to provide a clues as to his nature or import to the story. Stace takes this tack to wonderful -- and perhaps whimsical -- heights throughout the book. He tags the most minor people and places with names that could be the subject of readers' curiosity and debate.

What follows is an undoubtedly incomplete list of some of the evocative names in the book:

Leslie Shepherd: He shepherds us through the plot? He shepherds Jessold? He is shepherded by Jessold? Is his first name, which can also be a girl's name, intended to be evocative?

Manville: an intensely masculine character.

Victoria London: The name beats you over the head with its symbolism.

Ms. Bright: Victoria's understudy

Britten: The composer of a work regarding the people of the nation.

Drapery Street: What occurs there is concealed?

Sanderson: A medievalist (older characters or those associated with older matters are given names like this: in his case evoking "sand")

Miriam: "Marry him"?

Dan Mossup: An older singer ("moss")

Daniel Banter: a font of gossip

Romney Marsh: An older singer ("marsh")

Reichmann: The German instructor. Of course, he performed his instruction in "Frankfurt", which makes sense to me only as a symbolic name. I'm not aware that this city was the center of German music, as opposed to the larger metropolitan areas.

Benjamin Standing: "Standing" controls bestowal of cultural imprimaturs.

Carrie Tubb: Carry a tub? Singer of lousy music.

Badenstein: The "bad" prison camp

Cradless: Out of the cradle.

Kenneth Smart: The "smart" conductor

Grainger: back to the land?
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on November 6, 2011
I didn't know what to expect with this book, but was enormously impressed. This is an erudite read, yet one that keeps you turning the pages. It is a novel novel to say the least-- told in first person by a complex narrator. Makes me want to explore this author's other works.
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Like a great piece of music, this book sets a theme then reverts to it time and again. And, like a great piece of music, I'll have to run it through my brain at least a couple of times more before it begins to really resonate. An extraordinary tour de force of writing and plotting, one sees echoes of the overriding theme everywhere and, at the conclusion, one isn't entirely sure of the path one's taken. The author is brilliant - I only wish I had a tenth of his talent and scholarliness. Yet that learnéd underpinning isn't the least off-putting. Though I'm a slug, I can admire the eagle in his environment.
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on June 28, 2011
This is a well-written, extremely clever historical mystery told in the voice of one of the most unreliable narrators I've come across in my reading. The story combines so many of my favorite themes - opera, passion, tragedy, mystery, confession, the possibility of redemption - with an exciting murder mystery that ends with a surprising and satisfying resolution.
But most of all I just want to tell you how much fun it is to read. I found it so thrilling I couldn't put it down and finished it in two days.
Obviously not for everybody, but it certainly was for me.
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on December 31, 2013
I personally did not read this book,but heard wonderful things about it from several sources.I gave it as a gift and she found it a wonderful book,with a big surprise twist at the end.She is very glad I gave it to her,as she had not heard of it before..
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on December 24, 2012
Where do I begin with such a unique novel?

Firstly, it does not suit everyone. It's long, incredibly detailed, intricate and not meant to be read in one sitting. But its a story that deserves to be read and digested filled with murder, deception and an ending that was amazingly executed.

This book deserves to be bought, read, loved, and shared.
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on December 23, 2012
I bought this on a whim while I was doing my Christmas shopping. I had never heard of the book or the author. After reading the first chapter I can't wait to finish. I was plesently surprised to find the autor's writing style to be witty and endearingly quirky (just the way I lke it). If you like clever humor and a good mystery I recommend this book.
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on September 20, 2011
I don't know where author Wesley Stace has been all my life, but discovering him is a real find. His murder mystery historical drama "Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer," is as good a book as I've read in ions. It is literate, sometimes funny, always clever, erudite and exciting. Its historical picture of early to middle 20th century English musical culture, is revealing and rings true. Lest anyone think that this book is didactic, let me hasten to add that it is an intriguing murder mystery, meticulously plotted, suspenseful, and the solution to the crime will come as a surprise at the end, but logical given what comes before it. While this may be off-putting to some, Stace's writing is old-fashioned in the best sense of the term. I will now read all of Stace's novels (I think that there are two others) in the expectation that I will be as satisfied with them as I was with "Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer."
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