Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Done: "Beethoven Conspiracy" by Thomas Hauser

Done: Beethoven Conspiracy by Thomas Hauser, 1984, 0025490001.

Hauser has had an interesting career.  He currently writes on online boxing column and I discovered him by picking up one of his yearly column compilations at the library.  Hauser started out lawyering and in 1978 published the nonfic The Execution of Charles Horman on which the film Missing was based. Hauser has written 41 books - according to the bio on the boxing website - and most of those are about boxing.

This mystery is kinda short at 205 pages and Hauser does not spend much time on description and setting.  I'd compare the novel to an 87th Precinct novel.  Hauser has us following the investigator, Richard Marritt, through the investigation with some coverage on his home life.  You learn some about Marritt's political and personal views and meet his partner.  We also follow the main witness, Judith Carr, through her job and personal feelings.  The more I think about it the more this seems like a 87th homage.

Judith Carr is in her late twenties and a professional viola player.  Carr is freelance ad plays in some smaller quartets and fills in at New York symphonies.  Carr is contacted by a German-sounding guy, meets him for dinner and is asked to accept $10,000 in return for learning a piece of music, keeping open dates in November, and maintaining absolute secrecy.  This is weird, but $10,000 is a lot of cash for Carr.

Marritt enters the picture when three extremely talented young symphonic musicians are murdered outside Lincoln Center.  The victims' apartments were tossed and the only valuable item missing is a Stradivarius. Marritt cannot find a motive for the three murders.  Marritt and his partner start questioning friends, neighbors, musicians, etc.  Marritt finds some clues and a note in one victim's diary about Beethoven.  Marritt is questioning Carr and asks about dates.  Carr talks and Marritt starts to piece things together.

Marritt  finds that two murder victims deposited $10k in their accounts and the third bought a $10k bow.  Carr is the only person Marritt has found who spoke to the German  Carr talks to sketch artist and the police identify the German.  German once worked with a reclusive rich music lover.  Marritt is still at a loss and continues researching Beethoven.  Each musician must have been given their own part of a symphony and the German, who once led a Beethoven research library, must have an unknown 10th symphony.

Time passes. Married Marritt starts to dig single gal Carr.  Carr gets mail saying, "Go to Vienna".  Carr and Marritt go to Vienna.  Carr is whisked away to Salzburg.  Marritt is able to figure out where she went.  Carr arrives a remote and rural Salzburg mansion where she and 99 other young, talented musicians have gathered.  Rich Music Lover owns the mansion.  They are to practice and play the symphony under conduction of Rich Music Lover.  They are to be murdered en masse after the performance.  Marritt arrives and saves the day.

1.  Kinda fun but not a great book.
2.  No cell phones and internet to solve problems.
3.  Beaucoup Beethoven biography love.


Kelly Robinson said...

Ooooh, I'm on a boxing kick lately, for reasons I can't explain or understand. Thanks for pointing out this author!

Gerard Saylor said...

A read good collection of old time boxing stories by Robert E. Howard, simply entitled Boxing Stories. Not an easy thing to find in print but I think an e-version came out within the past couple years.

F.X. O'Toole's short story collection on boxing was excellent.