Kaye D. (Huntley, IL)
Much as I tried couldn't read this book
The day after Thanksgiving and a morning of shopping I looked forward to sitting down and enjoying a good book. Unfortunately reading Charles Jessold, Considered As A Murderer wasn't the book. I had to force myself to keep reading and in all honesty finally just gave up. I kept telling myself that it would get better but after page 100 I was still forcing myself to keep reading one more page. I was really looking forward to doing a review of the whole book but just couldn't continue with it. It bored me to death.
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.
Mary Ann B. (Louisville, KY)
No Night at the Opera
I had a hard time getting through this book. If you know Opera, and like it, maybe it is more interesting and meaningful. Unfortunately for me, I only felt indifference toward all the main characters.
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.
Wendy E. (Mechanicsville, VA)
I Just Couldn't Embrace It
I wanted to like it. I certainly enjoyed the erudite language, the plentiful allusions and the premise -"music-club" men collecting authentic English songs before they were lost to time. This was a slow read. I was hoping for a more engaging mystery and a bit quicker pace. Sometimes that clever language and reference-rich prose became tiresome.
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.
Kenneth T. (Houston, Tx)
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.