Clever 'Death and Transfiguration' intriguing to mystery, music fans

By Shelby Scoffield

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, June 16 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

"DEATH AND TRANSFIGURATION: A Daniel Jacobus Novel," by Gerald Elias, Minotaur Books, $26.99, 320 pages (f)

“Death and Transfiguration” by Gerald Elias is a clever and intriguing book that will please both mystery fans and music lovers.

Daniel Jacobus is a cynical violinist who is well known in the classical music world. He is a bitter old man who also happens to have a knack for solving murders.

Sherry O’Brien, a promising violinist, approaches Jacobus during the Tanglewood Music Festival. O’Brien is being harassed by Vaclav Herza, a well-known conductor who likes to destroy talented musicians. O’Brien is convinced that Jacobus can help her.

Jacobus turns O’Brien down and says her plight is useless. Shortly thereafter, O’Brien ends up dead. Having a change of heart, Jacobus decides to investigate O’Brien harassment claims. He becomes convinced of Herza’s guilt and seeks to bring him down.

Author of “Death and the Maiden,” “Danse Macabre” and “Devil’s Trill” and associate concertmaster of the Utah Symphony, Elias continues the adventures of Jacobus in this latest book.

Jacobus is one of the most unique protagonists in the mystery genre. Blind old men are not often seen as the hero of a story. Nonetheless, the reader does not know whether to hate or love Jacobus. Despite his sarcastic personality, Jacobus shows great humanity as he tries to help people in the music community.

Jacobus is more likeable in this novel. In “Death and the Maiden,” Jacobus seemed like a vulgar and crass old man. In “Death and Transfiguration,” which is scheduled to be released June 19, Elias cleaned up Jacobus' image and portrayed him more as a grumpy grandfather.

There is hardly an foul language and no explicitly violent scenes. The murder is described without going into gory details.

You do not have to be a lover of classical music to enjoy this book. Elias provides a glimpse of the classical music scene that is fascinating to those on the outside.

The plot of “Death and Transfiguration” is easier to follow than “Death and the Maiden.” The murder is straightforward, the villain is obvious and Jacobus’ mission is clear. Add a few unexpected twists, and the reader will not want to put the book down.

Elias is also an adjunct professor of music at the University of Utah.

If you go ...

What: Gerald Elias book signing

When: Friday, June 29, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

Shelby Scoffield is a graduate of Brigham Young University and a graduate student at California State University, Stanislaus.

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