Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Paganini's Ghost-Paul Adam

Paganini's Ghost
Paul Adam
Minotaur, Jan 5 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312383855

Assistant curator of antiquities for the city of Genoa Enrico Golinelli surrounded by a mob of his sycophants arrives at the workshop of elderly renowned violin maker Giovanni Castiglione. They need the artisan to inspect the legendary treasure, Nicolo Paganini's priceless il Cannone to insure it is in perfect condition for tonight’s gala performance. Russian Yevgeny Ivanov won a contest for the right to play the instrument at a recital in the Cremona Cathedral.

Following Ivanov's incredible performance, news arrives that that Parisian art dealer Francois Villeneuve has been murdered. Detective Antonio Guastafe leads the investigation, but asks Castiglione to assist him especially since the fine arts are involved starting with a locked golden box allegedly belonging to Paganini. Castiglione opens the box by using Paganini's music as the key and inside is a letter from Napoleon's sister Elisa Baciocchi as the case spins out of control with an alleged abduction.

The second Castiglione historical whodunit (see The Rainaldi Quartet) is a great nineteenth century tale that uses music as the core of a murder mystery. The investigation is terrific as Guastafe brings in an expert he trusts to interpret the music clues while the key cast is fully developed. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Paul Adam conducting a musical mystery tour of nineteenth century Europe though the eyes of master violin maker Castiglione with over five decades in the art of construction and restoration.

Harriet Klausner