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The Mozart Conspiracy    by Scott Mariani order for
Mozart Conspiracy
by Scott Mariani
Order:  USA  Can
Touchstone, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Blame Dan Brown who, about eight years ago, popularized the formula for this type of dark, international conspiracy novel with his hugely popular bestsellers The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. Since then an untold number of authors have offered their versions of this type of thriller.

Well, here's another. But to give this young author his due, he might be on to something. Scottish author Scott Mariani may actually go Brown one better in The Mozart Conspiracy. Not only is his story filled with some very sinister, bloodthirsty, easy to hate villains but there are also enough shocking twists and hair-raising escapes to keep even the most jaded thriller fan flipping pages.

Perhaps the most attractive element of this novel, though, is its protagonist, Ben Hope. Retired from the military, the former British Special Services officer is now a 'freelance crisis response consultant'. That's a cute euphemism for a man who intervenes on behalf of individuals who have had family members kidnapped or are, in some other way, seeking expert assistance in dealing with matters that can't be quickly resolved by the usual law enforcement agencies.

Trained by the military to deal with situations that require special skills, Benedict Hope once studied theology at Oxford and nearly married a woman who is now a famous diva. When his former girlfriend's brother mysteriously falls through the ice on a frozen lake and the woman herself feels threatened, Ben finds his services are needed.

What he discovers is that the young man had accidentally uncovered a powerful, clandestine society with roots that date back to Mozart's time and earlier. More to the point, the society many have been responsible for Mozart's strange death and its members continue to practice rituals that involve taking human life.

Mozart (in a secret letter he purportedly wrote about his membership in the Freemasons) and the questions surrounding the composer's death provide the bare bones skeleton Mariani is going to construct his story upon.

But, when all is said and done, the Mozart connection is just an excuse to fashion a fast paced, action thriller with plenty of violence and some very remarkable quirks in how the story is finally resolved. Some readers will probably not be happy with the ending, but we won't go into that!

Hollywood already sees the cinematic potential this novel offers and the Ben Hope series has already been optioned by Amer Antertainment. There is obviously another Ben Hope novel on the way and, as far as I am concerned, the sooner it arrives, the better!

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