Title: The Mozart Forgeries
Author: Daniel N. Leeson
Year published: 2004
Genre: Fiction, mystery
Rating: 3/5 (good)
Description: The idea of creating a counterfeit of a genuine Mozart manuscript is outrageous, but to attempt the forging of two such compositions for the purpose of a technical/musical swindle is an order of magnitude more aggressive. Yet that is exactly what Forger, a counterfeiting genius, and Librarian, an eighteenth century document specialist, decide to do, their motivation being a $20,000,000 price tag. They are faced with incredible impediments not the least of which is the authentication of both documents by some of the world's leading Mozart scholars.
My thoughts: There were things I liked about this book and things I didn't like. I found the descriptions of the process the two characters (named Librarian and Forger in the book -- you never do find out their names) went through to create a credible story and two Mozart manuscripts that can pass authentication by scholars fascinating. Leeson delves into the making of the paper, ink, the watermarks, Mozart's handwriting, and other elements that made the forgery seem real. Some might think this whole section a bit too detailed, and perhaps it was, but for a music geek like me it was perhaps the most interesting part of the whole book. Leeson, a Mozart scholar himself, really knows his stuff and it shows with his intermingling of reality (the two Mozart manuscripts in question really did disappear and have not been seen again since shortly after they were written) with his fictional elements.
The pacing of the book is somewhat off, however. Leeson spends much time on the set up: the background of the characters, the creation of the forged manuscripts, and then everything moves too fast at the end, too many new things get introduced, and the end feels a bit rushed and forced after the fairly slow pace of the first 2/3 of the novel. He throws in some plot twists at the end which are somewhat unbelievable and yet not entirely surprising at the same time. One plot twist at the end almost seemed like it was thrown in to force the book into a quicker conclusion.
Leeson's writing does not flow very well and it's obvious he spends more time writing academic work than fiction. Sometimes I wanted to take a pen to the work and edit the writing to make it flow in a more natural way.
Overall, I thought this was a good book and one I was happy I read, but the writing could use a bit of editing and some flow issues could be addressed.