Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review: The Memorist by M. J. Rose

In this second book of M. J. Rose's Reincarnationist series Rose goes back to Europe for another memory tool. This time the tool is a flute made of bone that plays a tune to release the memories of past lives. Malachai has known about it for years through his treatment of Meer Logan who came to the Phoenix Institute as a child haunted by what Meer considers to be false memories of times long past.

The Memorist centers around Vienna and Ludwig von Beethoven who in the 19th century had the memory flute and figured out the melody to unlock the flute's power. Meer's father, Joshua Logan, is also involve, not because there is an ancient Jewish artifact to recover but because he has found a gaming box that has been a central theme in Meer's haunting memories.

Into this struggle between fact and fear of reincarnation comes a journalist, David Yelom, who recently lost his family in a bombing and left him standing on the edge between sanity and vengeance. He is in Vienna to cover the ISTA conference, a world conference for security professionals, and plans to bomb the Beethoven concert on the final night, saving his revenge for the crashing finale of Beethoven's 5th symphony from far beneath the concert hall in the catacombs that riddle the depths of Vienna's streets.

So far, the Reincarnationist series has included several instances where the catacomb riddled depths of European city streets have been used. The Memorist is no exception. Meer's memories contain trips to the catacombs beneath the Memorist Society's building into their secret vault and the Roman catacombs that extend beneath the concert hall that makes security a nightmare and offers a haven to would-be bombers. 

Rose takes the reader on a tour of Beethoven's favorite haunts and homes, a pilgrimmage of music and danger and music that elevates The Memorist from inventive thriller to a literary feast for all the senses, even though we can't hear the music. I did find some of the people in the audience for the big concert quite amusing as they checked out the competition and fidgeted during one of the Beethoven's more recognizable and wondrous symphonies. Not everyone is a music lover -- or a history lover or reincarnation believer -- but everyone loves a good story and there are several good stories in The Memorist.

The confluence of past life memories and current relationships and acquaintances is well handled and even poignant at times. The story is believable and will even wring a tear from the reader in places. Keep in mind, Rose has created a memorable series that gives life and sheds light on some of the oldest beliefs in the world, out of which come the memory tools. If only. . . .

Other than some glaring editing errors, I heartily recommend The Memorist. It has everything a good novel should have: interesting characters, harrowing cliff hangers, action, history, emotional depth, and insight.

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