Sunday, October 8, 2017

Book Review: 'A Minor Deception' by Nupur Tustin

California author Nupur Tustin, a former journalist, earned her MA in English and a PhD in Communication and has written for Reuters and CNBC, short stories and freelance articles, and research published in peer-reviewed academic journals. But her passion for classical music, both in contemporary performance and in history, is obvious in this novel A MINOR DECEPTION – subtitled A Joseph Haydn Mystery Book 1 (yes, THAT Franz Joseph Haydn!). Or as Nupur states, ‘You may know him as a composer. You may even know him as Kapellmeister—Director of Music—to the powerful Esterházy Princes. Now, through my tales of mystery, I’d like to introduce you to Haydn, the Kapell-detective!’

Napur opens her well designed book with a fine cast of characters – background information so well researched that even avid classical music aficionados will find fresh information, both on the court of Her Imperial Majesty, Empress Maria Theresa (Ruled 1740-1780): Archduchess of Austria, Queen of Hungary & Bohemia and her family and contemporaries Ferenc II Rákóczi, Nikolaus Esterházy, etc but also about Haydn and his family, Mozart, Tomasini and the fictional cast members that complete this opera.

And in keeping with this classical music mystery Napur opens with an Overture – ‘On a chilly December morning in the year 1766, the inhabitants of the little town of Eisenstadt bustle about in a state of feverish anticipation. Eisenstadt might be no different from any other obscure free town in Royal Hungary; too insignificant to merit a spot on the postal route. Nevertheless, it has drawn the attention of the entire Empire upon itself. The widowed Empress Maria Theresa is to grace the little town in her Hungarian domains with a visit in three weeks; bringing to an end a year-long period of mourning for her beloved husband. But the man whom the town credits for this remarkable event is at this very moment beginning to fear something might go amiss in the weeks to come.’ The stage is set, the orchestra is tunes and the mystery begins.

The synopsis in the book is excellent – ‘When his newly hired violinist, Bartó Daboczi disappears just weeks before the Empress’s visit, Haydn is forced to confront a disturbing truth . . .Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn would like nothing better than to show his principal violinist Bartó Daboczi the door. But with the Empress Maria Theresa’s visit scheduled in three weeks, Haydn can ill-afford to lose his surly virtuoso. But when Bartó disappears—along with all the music composed for the imperial visit—the Kapellmeister is forced to don the role of Kapell-detective, or risk losing his job. Before long Haydn’s search uncovers pieces of a disturbing puzzle. Bartó, it appears, is more than just a petty thief—and more dangerous. And what seemed like a minor musical mishap could modulate into a major political catastrophe unless Haydn can find his missing virtuoso.’

In eloquent prose Napur relates her love of classical music, not missing a note of innuendo, and mixes that with a superb mystery whose characters just happen to be well known figures in history. It is this kind of writing that will bring readers into the circle of hearing fine music and attending concerts in the orchestra halls around the globe – all because one writer has the polished ability to stimulate our curiosity on every level. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, February 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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