“The bodies were found early in the afternoon of New Year’s Day. “
The bodies are discovered in a forest in France, adults and children in pyjamas are laid out in a semi-circle. This is not a murder scene but the mass-suicide of members of a sect only known as the Faith. This ‘departure’ calls commissaire André Schweigen and judge Dominique Carpentier to the scene, and they have seen this kind of thing before in Switzerland. Schweigen is explosive, angry and in love; the judge values rationality above all else. But she is “la chasseuse de sectes”, and investigating the Faith leads her on a journey that will disturb her equilibrium.
The problem with the Faith is that its members are all part of the elite, scientific and artistic. They are all successful, intelligent and no-one would have expected them to be members of a sect, let alone a suicide cult. In the judge’s investigation everything leads back to the composer, Friedrich Grosz.
The Strange Case of the Composer and his Judge is a mystery and even a thriller, but it is often metaphysical and slow-paced. Duncker focuses on philosophical questions, and the relationship between the composer and his judge, between passio et ratio is the core of this book. This novel is by no means boring, in fact it is rather tightly plotted, however you have to be interested in Duncker’s forays into the mystic, apocalyptic (the millennium looms large here) and occult.
This novel requires you to suspend your disbelief at times, but what you get in return is a contemplation on the genre, an intellectual game and the fine arts. It also reads best curled up with strong coffee and dark chocolate.
Have you reviewed this book? Let me know and I’ll add a link!