Review by Booklist Review
FYI, the o in Potzsch takes double dots over it -- not in this palette Here's quite a departure for the author of the excellent Hangman's Daughter novels. That series is set in seventeenth-century Germany; this novel is also set in Germany but in the present day. Steven Lukas, a dealer in rare books, stumbles into a conspiracy involving King Ludwig II, otherwise known as the Mad King, who died in 1886 under mysterious circumstances. Now the book dealer is on the run from the Cowled Men, a secret order devoted to proving Ludwig was murdered, who seem determined to make sure the secrets Lukas has uncovered die with him. Readers familiar with the historical-conspiracy genre will note that Potzsch o needs double dots -- not in this palette follows the format closely, but his historical novels, set nearly four centuries ago, feel more genuine, more anchored in reality, than this slick actioner (which suffers, it must be noted, from a surfeit of oh, come on! moments that threaten to stretch believability to the breaking point). It's not a bad book, and it floats an interesting theory about Ludwig's death, but it will definitely make you readers? want something meatier, like another Hangman's Daughter novel.--Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
German author Potzsch (The Poisoned Pilgrim and three other books in his Hangman's Daughter historical series) makes clever use of Bavaria's equivalent of the Kennedy assassination in this excellent stand-alone. The death in 1886 of Ludwig II of Bavaria (aka "Mad King Ludwig") has spawned countless conspiracy theories, despite the official verdict that the monarch drowned himself in Lake Starnberg after strangling his psychiatrist. In the present, Munich bookseller Steven Lukas finds himself the object of unwelcome attention-and a murder suspect-after he obtains a book entitled Memoirs of Theodor Marot, who was the assistant to the king's personal physician. This document recounts the truth about the events leading up to Ludwig's death. That truth is far from an academic question, since a modern-day self-declared king of Bavariadispatches violent henchmen to recover the memoirs. While readers will find broad parallels with Dan Brown's thrillers, Potzsch's sophisticated plotting and good use of a real-life historical puzzle place this far ahead of most Da Vinci Code wannabes. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Who was that Cowled Man? Austrian novelist Ptzsch serves up an ambitious though familiar tale of Mad King Ludwig. Clues tucked away in old books, secret societies (cowled, naturally, the better to hide) seeking to keep the secrets in those musty pages safe from prying eyes, history hinging on the occult--it's well-worked territory. That said, Ptzsch (The Beggar King, 2013) will endear himself to independent booksellers everywhere by making the hero of the piece one of their kind ("[h]ours of dealing with damaged books had hit him harder than he liked to admit"), if one unusually full of lethal surprises ("[t]he king would never have believed the bookseller capable of killing one of the strongest knights in cold blood"). At his side stands Sara Lengfeld, ace art detective--"Art detective? More like a female Philip Marlowe," thinks Steven, antiquarian bookseller, appreciatively. How a secret diary has come into Steven's hands is one of many implausibilities in a story that begs and begs again the suspension of disbelief, but no matter: Anyone who's visited Bavaria and toured the great Neuschwanstein Castle will have wondered why Ludwig II, the brilliant and eccentric ruler of that formerly independent state, wound up deposed and dead under very strange circumstances, and Ptzsch offers an intriguing, entertaining answer. Moreover, his novel includes a virtual book-within-book tour of Ludwig's two palaces, along with that castle, in which clues unfold at a brisk pace. The writing is occasionally clunky ("His headache the next morning told Steven that the Montepulciano had been a bit stronger than he was used to"; "[t]he ramshackle horse-drawn cab tossed Steven roughly back and forth"), but the tale moves along well enough, and it resolves nicely. Fans of bookish European fiction will enjoy this, the too abundant Dan Brownian motions notwithstanding.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.