Admittedly, Mariani’s The Mozart Conspiracy reads like a less accomplished Ludlum thriller, complete with unkillable hero, dogged cop, murderous villains, a conspiracy embedded in high circles, and a potential romance. And admittedly, his writing is far from poetic or evocative and his characters are mostly cardboard figures. All that said, I enjoyed the adrenaline rush of this quick read as much as I enjoyed the flirtation with an historic mystery surrounding one of my favorite composers of all time, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
The plot centers around a recently-discovered letter by Mozart to a close colleague, warning of a serious threat to the anti-royalty Freemasonic faction of which Mozart was a part. Mozart dies suspiciously not long after, and the conclusion by some is that he was poisoned by a pro-royalty faction of the Freemasons to silence him for exposing their secrets in his renowned opera “The Magic Flute.” That oligarchic faction, known as the Order of Ra, has persisted in high circles to the present time, committing ritualistic sacrifices of its political and financial enemies and willing to do anything to keep their secrets, their wealth, and their political influence. When pianist Oliver Llewellyn, whose father discovered the Mozart letter, gets too close to the Order, they kill him and begin hunting his sister Leigh when they learn she possesses some of her brother’s research material. Enter former British Special Forces Benedict Hope, Oliver’s friend and Leigh’s lover from 15 years earlier. At this point, the fur starts to fly—both literally and figuratively—as cars crash, convents burn, people get their heads cleaved in with regularity, and Ben and Leigh escape one ambush after another, down to the grand—and bloody—finale.
As a number of reviewers have dismissively argued, Mariani’s book was clearly written in conscious imitation of the Jason Bourne adventures and Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Conspiracy. And yet, since we aren’t dealing with fine literature but cheap Hollywood-style adventure thrills and chills, I say “so what!”