The first time violinist Julia Ansdell picked up the "Incendio Waltz" in a darkened antique shop in Rome, she knew it was a strikingly unusual composition. The minor key and complex feverish arpeggios have a life of their own. But when she plays the piece, Julia blacks out and awakens to find her small daughter implicated in acts of surprising violence. When she travels to Venice to find the previous owner of the music, she uncovers a heart-stoppingly dark secret that not only dates back to the horrors of the Holocaust, but also directly involves a dangerously powerful family who would stop at nothing to keep Julia from bringing the truth to light.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Simon on 31-10-15
Reaching Some Higher Grace Notes.
I’m not quite sure why I chose this book as my first from Tess Gerritsen but I am genuinely glad that I did. This is a beautiful story split between the present day and the troubled city of Venice during the second world war. It is a haunting story centered around a tragic piece of music written by a young Jewish composer. The dual narration works very well to set the atmosphere and Gerritsen’s efficient prose moves the two stories along at a brisk pace with no padding or tangents.
The two strands are beautifully woven together and drawn to a conclusion that pulls few punches. There is no attempt to sugar coat the horrors that the Jewish people suffered which gives the story a genuine power and gravitas that could easily have been missed. This is a moving book; a tale of modern life and how it can never really escape the past that formed it. Gerritsen has done the research and produced a thoroughly satisfying tale that fits well within the events of history. No simple task with such sensitive subject matter.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Janice on 16-11-15
This is the second book in a row I’ve read that has dual story lines whose tone and atmosphere clash with each other as if written by separate authors. In this case, a current day story focuses on a haunting piece of music that appears to have near magical sway over some who hear it, leading to unexplained violent acts. Violinist Julia’s attempts to find the music’s secrets cause those closest to her to suspect her of being insane. The behavior of the principal players did not seem genuine, especially Julia’s husband, and the plot devices that tried to rationalize the behavior just muddied up the story.
The second story line takes us to WWII Italy and the composer of the music. His story is familiar to anyone who has read any Holocaust stories. It is moving as all such stories are moving, but there is nothing here to make this story unique.
Forcing these two threads together was a stretch that never really made a convincing connection. The narration was just ok. Julia Whelan was unfortunately horrible at character voices, especially any male voice. Will Damron was better, but his female voices were also lacking, though not as egregious as his female counterpart. I’ll give this a 3 since I was able to finish it and the ending was satisfactory. What probably lifted this up the most was the inclusion of musical interludes and at the end a full performance of the music in the story – I wish I knew who wrote it because it really is lovely.
70 of 72 people found this review helpful
By Harold on 31-01-16
Gripping, haunting and exquisitely delivered.
A mystery turned thriller as well as a tale about love and the passion and power of music, the story takes place both in current day America and in Italy and during the years in Italy, WW II.
While on tour in Italy, a young woman, wife, mother and professional violinist, purchases an old book of gypsy melodies and finds an original, unpublished, hand written composition. The events which follow are entwined throughout with the story of the young Jewish composer. This book gripped me within the first chapter and did not let go. The audio version is a must-have. The background insertions of the violin music had me captured throughout, yearning to hear more. Long after the last word was spoken and the last note played I stayed in the story. It held me captive.It will be awhile before this tale relaxes it's hold over me.
22 of 23 people found this review helpful