Music professor Gus LeGarde is about to embark on a European honeymoon with his new wife, Camille, when his socially challenged brother-in-law receives a mysterious invitation to visit an ailing relative in Germany. Siegfried can't travel alone, but the newlyweds have no qualms over bringing him along.
Unfortunately, their idyllic vacation takes a dark turn at the first stop in Paris, when Gus and Siegfried are caught in a bloody street brawl with a group of neo-Nazis - and a flawed news report frames Siegfried for the murder of one of their leaders, thrusting him into the deadly group's crosshairs.
After a narrow escape, Gus manages to bring his brother-in-law safely to Germany, where he hopes to both salvage the rest of the honeymoon and explore the shocking family secret that awaits there. But the events they've set in motion have far-reaching consequences, and the ruthless leader of the terrorist faction has lethal plans in store for Gus, Camille, and Siegfried - and ultimately, the world.
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The musical connection
Mazurka is a thrilling story that weaves family, suspense and romance threads together, only to bring forth the essence hiding underneath. As the title suggests, that essence, to me, is music. Gus, a music professor, states at the beginning, “Most days I played Chopin’s mazurkas, nocturnes, waltzes… My soul was being cleansed as my fingers danced over the ivories.” His late wife, Elsworth: had a passion for his music, too, instilled in her since childhood, so their love used to resonate on that note, as well.
On a honeymoon trip with his new wife, Camille, who has a history of abuse at the hands of her ex-husband, Gus is so gentle, so patient with her. Right from the start, this trip does not go as planned. “Hope glinted momentarily behind her long lashes util the plane quaked again.” The love scene is delicately described. Later, they visit places near and dear to his heart. “This is where he composed his last Mazurka, Camille.” And on second thought, he realizes, “I realized that when I sat at home in front of my old Mason and Hamlin piano and lost myself in one of Chopin’s melancholy nocturnes, I was closer to his genius than when I stood in front of this old building in Paris.”
But even in this romantic location, which is so vividly captured in this book, trouble is brewing, when they are faced, time and again, with members of a neo-nazi group. “There is a great deal of fear out there now, fear of those fanatics organizing and gaining some political momentum.” There are chase and escape scenes that will leave you hanging by your nails… Until, in the end, a revelation that harkens back to the musical theme, when they discover a precious, never before published manuscript by Chopin, for the woman in his life. Thus, love and music are woven together once more, even in the face of fear and mishaps. “My hand trembled as I held the precious manuscript under the light.”
The audiobook narrator, Lou Hecker, did justice to the writing, giving voice to Gus, giving a hesitant, soft voice to Camille, and endowing the other characters with different accents and intonations. I enjoyed his performance.
Highly recommended. Five stars.