Today is Robert Barnard day on Forgotten Books. I’ve not read any of his work before and decided to go with one under his pseudonym Bernard Bastable, one of a handful of historical thrillers  under that name.

It’s the story of aging Austrian composer Wolfgang Gottlieb Mozart. The middle name threw for until I did some research and learned Mozart did indeed use that name at times. I would consider DEAD, MR. MOZART a novel set in an alternate universe.

It’s 1820 and the sixty-four year old Austrian lives in England, has since he was seven. He hasn’t composed anything of consequence in decades, merely simple trifles to amuse the populace and nobility. He’s poor and survives by doing such things as playing what we would call elevator music today for the royal family while they dine. He then gets to eat from the leftovers, better fare than he usually engages in. He also works at Mr. Poppins’ theater, the Queen, and has even adapted a Salieri opera to be more lighthearted for British audiences.

Now he has a chance to compose a new opera. King George III has died after a long illness, bouts with mental problems, and the coronation of George IV is in the planning stages. The new King wants to divorce his wife Caroline before that happens and Mozart gets caught up in palace intrigues when he’s forced to help hide a witness to Caroline’s infidelities  in the Queen and then dispose of a body when a murder happens.

Mozart sets out to find out what happened in that dressing room where he found a Lord, his patron, standing over the body.

For more book reviews on Robert Barnard and his work, Patti Abbott is doing the gathering on Friday.

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