It is late March 1868. In Munich, composer Richard Wagner is completing his new opera Die Meistersinger von Nuremberg. It has been a difficult few years for him, and much depends upon the success of this new work. Following the tense auditions, an anonymous note warns Wagner that the premiere will be the date of his ruination.
Enter Inspector Hermann Preiss, who discovers a complication. Her name is Cornelia Vanderhoute, and she claims to have been made pregnant after a typical brief Wagner fling.
A series of murders of people involved in the new production suggests Cornelia is carrying out a deadly program of revenge. Even Wagner and his wife are threatened. Will Preiss succeed in discovering the writer of the note? Will he manage to prevent the murder of Wagner, and what will happen on the night of the premiere?close this panel
Morley Torgov is one of Canada’s best-loved authors. His works include A Good Place to Come From and the classic The Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick. Murder in A-Major, his first mystery novel, was published in 2008. He lives in Toronto.close this panel
It’s a dangerous business for a novelist to mix real history and imaginary crimes. The combination of the two almost demands that the story be treated with a touch of humour, but that doesn’t mean the author is allowed to get cute on us. Torgov has just the right feel for this kind of writing, never coy, solid with his history but not allowing the facts to get in the way of a good joke.
The second Hermann Preiss novel by Morley Torgov, set in 19th-century Munich, is even better than the first makes for a great story.
“[Mastersinger of Minsk]is worthy of Hitchcock in the way it uses the interpretation of a song as a plot device -rather like Die Meistersinger itself for that matter.”
…adds to the world’s store of crime novels that coat knowledge – about music, opera, and the life of Wagner specifically – in a delicious wrapper of entertainment and mild suspense. It can never be a bad thing to have fun while learning or vice versa – by depicting the lively, competitive and sometimes fraught lives of the great composers, and Torgov gives readers exactly that gift.
As a crime investigation novel, The Mastersinger from Minsk works well with nicely rounded intriguing characters, a coherent plot, and a mainly reasonable resolution. But its other virtue is that it adds to the world’s store of crime novels that coat knowledge about music, opera, and the life of Wagner specifically in a delicious wrapper of entertainment and mild suspense.