Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer
A bit like the author, Wesley Stace, this book is a compilation of parts. Musical history, early twentieth century political and social history, and a history of a murder, the whole is indeed better than the description of its parts. Stace is the alter ego of composer and musician John Wesley Harding, a name itself created from that of a 19th century gunslinger. (John Wesley Hardin is perhaps better known to us in Texas.) Although there were some slow stretches, the period speech and detail are terrific and form the ribbon which wraps this witty and very clever tale. I shall have to avail myself of Hardings music along side Hardins legends after this roundabout.
Rated of 5
by Diana C. (Delray Beach, FL)
A Lyrical Murder Mystery
Written in the nuanced language of early 20th century England, this is the engaging story of fictional composer Charles Jessold's life, as well as the life of his friend, music critic, and the story's narrator, Leslie Shepherd. The underlying murder mystery and descriptive passages of life during pre and post World War One Europe, pulls this novel out of the depths of the author's professorial dissertation on 19th and 20th century operettas and traditional folk music. Concentration is the key, and for that you will be richly rewarded.
Rated of 5
by Jean T. (Paducah, KY)
A Mystery Maestro
My first thought as I began reading "Charles Jessold" was “this is delicious!” which seemed a bit incongruous for a musical novel, but I was “hungry for more!” As I continued through the intricate twists and turns that comprise the narrator’s tale of murder set against a background of love won and lost, psychological intrigue, musical history, and war, I generally found Mr. Stace’s prose to be amusing, clever, engaging, and far from the run of the mill approach to unwinding a mystery. In this way I truly enjoyed this book. My only two quibbles with the novel were that there was a section about half to two- thirds into it where it began to get a bit tedious and I was feeling myself wanting to jump ahead, but then I was back following intensely for the last several chapters; and the other quibble was at times I found the musical references a bit too erudite and I was wishing my musical knowledge was a bit more “up to snuff”. Overall I enjoyed the book a great deal and I would definitely recommend it to other mystery lovers.
Rated of 5
by Jane C. (Brighton, MI)
Charles Jessold Considered as a Murderer
Unique combination of music and literature, with a little murder thrown in. All of the pieces are blended well. Interesting character development as people moved in and out of the scenes. Written from the perspective of a man who know Charles Jessold, warts and all.
Rated of 5
by Barbara F. (Saint Louis, MO)
Some things never change
If you find the opening first few chapters a bit tedious as you are not enraptured by English nuance and you aren't obsessed with the perfect opera, do not relinquish the pleasures this book offers if you stay till the end. I was totally engaged with the obsessive nature of the characters and apparent lack of conscience when art and genius come together. On a lighter note, I chuckled with the similarities picturing another group of English gentlemen(in this century) imbibing in mind altering substances, swapping bed partners, while obsessing about the perfect rock album. Somehow the earlier century affords these behaviors, respectability and mystery. Earnest, disciplined book clubs will enjoy the read.
Rated of 5
by Betsey V. (Austin, TX)
Music and murder
Wesley Stace is no newcomer to music. He has composed 15 albums under the name John Wesley Harding, music of sardonic rock mixed with covers of British ballads. In his third novel, he turns to early the 20th century music scene of the pastoral music and the atonal avant-garde world of Schoenberg.
The novel opens with a report of a murder/suicide of a rising young composer: Charles Jessold, and the shooting of his wife. There are parallels to the life of homonymic (in name) Carlo Gesualdo, the Rennaissance composer. The first part of the book is the version of the police. The second part, "Post-Mortem,"gives a wholly different picture of the murder.
The story is told by Leslie Shepherd, a composer and patron who worked with Jessold on his latest opera. The narration is dry and witty, if a bit fusty and precious at times, but true to the period of the story. Very esoteric and scholarly. It helps if the reader is familiar with classical music and opera in order to fully appreciate the nuances of wit and mordancy.
Rated of 5
by Nancy O. (Hobe Sound, FL)
Very twisted but good.
Once I started this book I could not stop reading. I liked it and was intrigued by the story, enough so that I finished the book in one sitting. I have to say that I did not see the twist in the story coming at all, so in that sense, it was surprisingly refreshing -- it had a storyline quite different than anything I've read recently. My only problem with this book is that the music speak was a bit tedious at times, and I found myself skimming to get back to the story once in a while, which I can overlook because of the strange and twisted story the author has laid out here. Otherwise, there was a clear sense of time and place, which is important in a good novel, and the characters were so pathetic that the author did his job well in creating them. I'd recommend it to people interested in historical fiction, or to people who enjoy a good twisty plot. Fans of Stace's other books will also like this one.
U.S. ebook sales up in 2012, but rate of growth is slowing(May 16 2013) In 2012, trade book sales (i.e. non academic book sales) rose 6.9%, to $15.049 billion, and e-book sales continued to grow, although the rate of growth...