In 1886, King Ludwig II, the King of Bavaria, was deposed on grounds of mental incapacity without any medical examination. His "diagnosis" remains controversial among historians to this day. Soon after his fall from power, Ludwig died under mysterious circumstances, leaving the eccentric and beautiful "fairytale" castles he had built as his only remaining legacy.
While putting away books from an estate sale purchase, rare book-dealer Steven Lukas finds a box he's never seen before wedged between books on a high shelf. In it he discovers what looks to be a small diary written entirely in code, a lock of hair, and old photographs of the Fairytale King. It isn't long however, before his excitement turns to fear as he realizes that mysterious others want the diary too - and will apparently kill to get it. Suspecting that his find may contain the secret truth behind Ludwig's death, Steven consults with art historian Sara Lengfeld. Soon they find themselves on the run together, investigating each of Ludwig's three castles for clues as to just what in that ancient diary could be so explosive as to be worth killing - and even dying - for.
©2011 Oliver Pötzsch. English Translation © 2013 Anthea Bell. Recorded by arrangement with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. (P)2013 HighBridge Company
"Pötzsch’s sophisticated plotting and good use of a real-lifehistorical puzzle place this far ahead of most Da Vinci Code wannabes." (Publishers Weekly starred review)
Painter, musician, bibliophile...
I avoided reading the book in print because the translation I saw was a mess. I waited for the spoken version, and when I saw Anthea Bell had translated it, I knew this translation would have been carefully prepared. Plus, Simon Vance, while perhaps not the best choice for a narrator who has to get through a lot of German pronunciation, does a commendable job. So why am I so disappointed in this book?
Without revealing spoilers, I'll just say the plot seemed predictable and too much was given away too early. Unfortunately, it cannot escape comparisons to "The Da Vinci Code." This too, is all too obvious very early on.
Furthermore, while the main characters showed the potential for unique and intriguing personalities early on, they didn't develop into fictional people I cared much about. Despite the fact they were in danger and there should have been great suspense, I couldn't sustain much interest in what happened next.
On the other hand, the book is atmospheric and evocative, a beautiful fictional visit to Bavaria for the armchair tourist, with a good dash of history thrown in.
This is the first Pötzsch book I've read. I would definitely read something else from him. But overall, I'd give "The Ludwig Conspiracy" a miss and choose another of this books if you are interested.
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