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Reviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

What a charmer! I really wanted to enjoy A Minor Deception before ever even opening it! As a classical music person all my life, any book that appreciates that art form is special to me.

But this one went beyond a good many of them, in cleverly utilizing the music as part of the scenery, so to speak. It is honest in its presentation, and since Franz Josef Haydn – the principal ‘detective’ in this story – is known as the father of both string quartets and symphonies, there are a lot of potential episodes waiting to be unveiled.

Haydn’s music greatly influenced the two great masters who came after him: Beethoven and Mozart. Trying to imagine a world without any music from those composers is unthinkable to any music lover. I still have the very first book I was ever given–from my first teacher on my fifth birthday. It was a biography of Haydn, who not only set me on the path to discovering those sounds he created, but also his successors, of course.

The time is 1766, just before two of the great revolutions of history: those of America and France. At that point in Austria and Hungary, there were rumblings of just such an event happening – perhaps involving the assassination of the Empress Maria Theresa of Hungary. With her removal, dissidents imagined a joining together of those two countries, perhaps aligned with the more powerful Germany.

Franz Josef (referred to only as Joseph in this story) is employed by the Hungarian Prince Esterhazy as Kapellmeister, or director of the Court’s chorus and orchestra. He was also the main composer at the court, and also in charge of hiring the musicians for his orchestra. It was there that he was able to establish himself as the greatest composer of the era. (Until the 20 years young Mozart grew up, that is.)

Haydn had two younger brothers, Michael and Johann, and was married to the former Maria Anna Keller. The marriage was rocky as they were unable to have children. They barely tolerated each other.

And now, just prior to an expected visit by the Empress, with an important new work to be performed in her honor, Bartó Daboczi, the concertmaster of the orchestra is suddenly missing. Ordinarily this would almost please Haydn, as the man really wasn’t all that good, but he’d come highly recommended. It would not be easy to replace him at this late date, but suddenly there were numerous candidates.

With the assistance of a pair of maids in the castle, his brothers, even his truculent wife and a few townsfolk, Haydn is able to discover exactly what happened to the violinist.

I found this to be a very well-written and constructed story. The pacing was excellent throughout, reminiscent of a Haydn symphony. I’m looking forward to the next episode. It was very refreshing to read a story set in a country other than the U.S. or the UK.


First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Foiled Plots Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.


A Minor Deception