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The Strange Case of the Composer and his Judge by Patricia Duncker (Book Review 2010-109)

Product Description

The bodies are discovered on New Year's Day, sixteen dead in the freshly fallen snow. The adults lie stiff in a semicircle; the children, in pajamas and overcoats, are curled at their feet. When he hears the news, Commissaire André Schweigen knows who to call: Dominique Carpentier, the Judge, also known as the "sect hunter." Carpentier sweeps into the investigation in thick glasses and red gloves, and together the Commissaire and the Judge begin searching for clues in a nearby chalet. Among the decorations and unwrapped presents of a seemingly ordinary holiday, they find a leather-bound book, filled with mysterious code, containing maps of the stars. The book of the Faith leads them to the Composer, Friedrich Grosz, who is connected in some way to every one of the dead. Following his trail, Carpentier, Schweigen, and the Judge's assistant, Gaëlle, are drawn into a world of complex family ties, seductive music, and ancient cosmic beliefs. Hurtling breathlessly through the vineyards of Southern France to the gabled houses of Lübeck, Germany, through cathedrals, opera houses, museums, and the cobbled streets of an Alpine village, this ferocious new novel is a metaphysical mystery of astonishing verve and power.

About the Author

Patricia Duncker is the author of the novels Hallucinating Foucault (winner of the Dillons First Fiction Award and the McKitterick Prize), The Deadly Space Between, and The Doctor, as well as collections of short stories and essays. Her work has been shortlisted for the Macmillan Silver Pen Award and the Commonwealth Writer's Prize. She is Professor of Contemporary Literature at the University of Manchester.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (July 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608192032
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608192038


This is not a book I would normally pick up to read on my own.  When  I did try it out and I found I couldn't put it down.  It is a strange tale about the Judge (a little like the district attorney in the US) and a Composer (again, to me, in the US he would have been called a conductor).  Once you get passed the little language issues and pull out your dictionary, the story is truly enjoyable.  I found myself thinking about these characters long after I put the book down.  I would love to read more about the main character, Dominique Carpentier.

1 comment:

  1. This book looks's on my wishlist and now I really think I'll order it.
    Liked your review style.

    Can I interest you in a watch? You know, if it says "fashion" it must be good! LOL



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