Literary Fiction (View all)
New Year's Day, 2000. Hunters on their way home through a forest in the Jura stumble upon a half-circle of dead bodies lying in the freshly fallen snow. A nearby holiday chalet contains the debris of a seemingly ordinary Christmas: champagne, decorations, presents for the dead children. The hunters are questioned and sent away. As they descend the mountain, a large dark car rises past them in the gloom. The woman within barely acknowledges their presence.
The Judge, Dominique Carpentier, is in charge of the investigation. Commissaire Andre Schweigen is waiting for her. They have encountered this suicide sect before. In the chalet they find a strange leather-bound book, written in mysterious code, containing maps of the stars. The book of The Faith leads them to the Composer, Friedrich Grosz, who is connected to every one of the dead. Surely he must be implicated in The Faith? And so the pursuit begins. Carpentier, Schweigen and the Judge's idiosyncratic assistant Gaelle are drawn into a world of complex family ties, ancient cosmic beliefs and seductive, disturbing music. Carpentier, known as the sect hunter, prides herself on her ability to expose frauds and charlatans.
This was a ripper! I simply could not wait to get reading each night, and as soon as I had a day at home I gave myself up to it entirely, finishing it in one hugely enjoyable sitting. Patricia Dunker has a fantastic reputation amongst her peers; the writers who admire her work read like a who's who of literature. I have read only this and her previous book, Miss Webster and Cherif, and am now really on the watch for more. The plot of this current book was right up my alley, and it was executed with such tremendous power and energy that it had me by the throat. Wonderfully evocative, the novel is set in the Languedoc during the grape harvest, and so is perfect for those of you here in the Barossa who have finished with vintage for this year and can empathize with those still working. Because this is a landscape just as harsh and dry as ours, we can also vividly appreciate those first cold nights of autumn, with gusty winds and spatterings of rain. When a half-circle of dead bodies is discovered in a snowy forest in the Jura, Commissaire Andre Schweigen hastens to call in The Judge, Dominique Carpentier, who worked with him on a similar case which intrigued and perplexed them, but was never solved. The chase which ensues takes them through the vineyards of Southern France and halts tantalizingly in many places of interest throughout Europe: the principal suspect is the composer/conductor Friedrich Grosz, who lives and works in the gothic, gabled town of Lubeck, while his daughter is the owner of an exclusive family owned winery in the Midi. Madame Le Judge is a singular character and a highly intelligent woman; her passion in life is the exposure of those who mislead the lonely and naive, ensnaring them in the many and various weird and wonderful sects of their own devising. This is a theme that could result in yet another compelling thriller, but in Patricia Dunker's hands the novel takes on a masterly and altogether different dimension. The book brims with erudition and powerful conviction, and is full of wonderful musical and literary allusions; in one typical and marvelous scene, Grosz conducts Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, using it in an attempt to break the resolve of Carpentier, who is as unmusical as she is strong minded and beautiful. I really did enjoy this one; there is plenty to get your teeth into and it's vastly entertaining at the same time!
What a brilliant read! The Judge, Dominique Carpentier, is a fiercely independent intelligent woman, who makes the best heroine, while Friedrich Grosz, the Composer, makes a very sinister villain. Along with Gaelle, the Judge’s Goth personal assistant, and Commissaire Schweigen, the care worn detective, these are the central and very interesting players. With just the right mix of intrigue, mystery, romance and history this is sure to satisfy all your reading needs in one riveting volume.