Tuesday September 6, 7pm – Mystery
Gerald Elias author of Death and the Maiden ($25.99 Minotaur Books)
“This latest mystery from Elias (Danse Macabre), featuring almost-too-irascible-to-be-lovable Daniel Jacobus, a brilliant violinist whose career was ended by blindness, has a headline-based premise. In 2005, a violinist fired by the Audubon Quartet sued his former colleagues, causing some to lose their homes and even their instruments. Here, Jacobus’s former pupil Yumi now plays with the New Magini String Quartet, replacing an impossible colleague who had been forced out. The quartet is set to rehearse Schubert’s sublime “Death and the Maiden” for a multimedia event at Carnegie Hall, but first violinist Aaron Kortovsky is missing in action. Jacobus is drafted to find him, though he’s stymied by the musicians’ business-only attitude; even violist Annika hasn’t kept track of Kortovsky, and she’s married to him. Soon, Jacobus is on the phone with a chamber music–loving policeman in Peru, Kortovsky’s last known whereabouts, while worrying about that scorned colleague and the temporary replacement for Kortovsky, a wild Russian who happens to be the cellist’s son. VERDICT Though a few near caricatures might make some readers wince, this fast-paced and punchily written mystery will entertain most fans, even as it delivers a fluid understanding of classical music.” —Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
“As we now know from current education theory, people learn in many distinct ways. Though as a musician my most important tools are my ears, strangely enough I’m most comfortable as a visual and tactile learner. That is why when I was a child the quickest and most comfortable method for me was to copy things by hand, whether books or music. Thus my introduction to “writing” was to copy, word for word, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, which, in the process, I memorized verbatim at the age of seven.
That being said, none of what you read above is true. Actually, I just like to write, and as you see, fiction comes most easily, though one important turn in my writing career was the result of being a contract negotiator for the musicians of the Boston Symphony and Utah Symphony. In drafting agreements (theoretically nonfiction) with management it was paramount that every word was universally acceptable and understood. Ambiguity in wording inevitably led to disagreements, which could be both devastating to the morale of the whole organization, let alone very expensive. My father, Irving, liked to write letters to the editor of his local papers, inflaming the public’s conscience on social and political issues, and I’ve followed in his footsteps in that regard. He also liked to write witty poems, every pair of lines having to rhyme and having the same sing-song rhythm. These he read with great gusto, but I’ve never gone in that direction.
Rather, I’ve gotten into writing murder mysteries. I’ve always enjoyed reading mysteries and suspense novels. They take me away from the daily grind, and when well-written, are as thought-provoking as the most scholarly tome. Some of my favorite authors in this genre are John LeCarre, Walter Mosley, Lawrence Sanders, and Dick Francis.
My road to published authorship has been very circuitous and could be the subject of a novel itself. But suffice it to say the books I’ve written, about the seamier sides of the classical music world, are, though fiction, nevertheless steeped in reality, dealing with issues of ethics and integrity as well as murder and mayhem. And by writing about murder in the classical music world, as opposed to carrying it out in real life, I’ve saved myself substantial amounts of prison time. The protagonist in each of my novels is a curmudgeonly, blind violin teacher named Daniel Jacobus, and he inevitably gets drawn into life-threatening situations against his will and somehow manages to make things a lot worse before they get better. “ Gerald Elias