Dead, Mr Mozart

Bernard Bastable

08 February 2013
194 pages


It is 1820, and George IV has just assumed the throne. An ageing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is intrigued by the prospect of a coronation, scenting rich pickings. As a child he had visited England with his family in 1764, but instead of returning to Austria and an early death (as orthodox music history relates), they stayed on, deluded by a piece of royal generosity – the result of a misunderstanding of guttural royal English. Now Mozart conducts his own meretricious rubbish at a London theatre, but dreams of having one more ‘real’ opera staged before he dies.

However, the trial of George IV’s wayward queen for adultery, before the Lords, leads Mozart into dangerous – and indeed murderous – waters. Insulted (most graciously) by the King, the composer finds himself involved in disposing of an inconvenient corpse and initiating enquiries to uncover the murderer . . . a matter which seems of remarkably little consequence to everyone else.

This diverting and perplexing piece of alternative history is a delightful addition to our knowledge of the great composer, and to the output of Bernard Bastable, also known to crime fans as Robert Barnard.

‘Not only fetchingly funny, but also craftily plotted.’ The Scotsman

‘Great fun is had with real and imagined historical personages.’ Irish Times

‘Tremendous period skulduggery’ Sunday Times