Death and the Maiden by Gerald Elias is all what a mystery should be – fast paced, not losing sight of the plot, a bit of psychology thrown in and above all set around music, which made this mystery even more wonderful. I have not read the earlier Elias mysteries, however now that I have read this one; I can safely say that one doesn’t have to read the earlier books to read this one.
Death and the Maiden is centered on a string quartet. The new Magini String Quartet is being sued by its former disgruntled member, Crispin Short and to add to that, the 1st violinist, Aaron Kortovsky has disappeared. Aaron is also feared dead when severed fingers are found in the instrument cases of all the members of the quartet, including Ivan Lipinski who has been hired to replace Kortovsky. The killer’s motive: The quartet should not perform a modern reimagining of Franz Schubert’s, “Death and the Maiden”.
Enter: Blind violinist and our detective in the book, Daniel Jacobus who at any cost wants to identify the serial killer (yes there are a couple of murders thrown in as well). For me, the most unique aspect of the book was the fact that the detective was blind and I was intrigued with every page to know, how he would solve the mystery. Jacobus has been struck blind in his prime by a rare disease and has been left bitter and angry. He does not know what to do about it, so he teaches the violin and plays Scrabble. It is while teaching the violin to one of his students, who coincidentally belongs to The New Magini String Quartet, does he chance on this unusual situation. Both the killer and the investigator are similar in the sense that they both have faced tragedies and yet they cope with them differently. That’s the psychological angle to the book.
I loved how Elias managed to build the plot. There was not a single dull moment for me in the book. With every chapter there was a new turn and that is what keep mystery readers glued. The tone of the book is perfect. The writing in its place. The characters are sometimes complex and sometimes easy to get and for all of this and more, read the book. I cannot wait to read the other two books.