“To be honest….Ludwig the Second is far more than a fat drowned body to many Bavarians. He’s their identity and a myth at the same time, and as a myth, of course he lives forever.”
Mad King Ludwig, as he’s known, may have been far more a dreamer than an insane royal. Full of whimsy, he had a passion for constructing wildly exotic castles, building ever more elaborately styled ones, along with fabulous palaces. Ludwig also had a passion for men, along with the occasional woman. Many secrets surround the Fairy Tale King. Did one of them get him killed?
"Coupled with ciphers, codes, fairytale castles and evil villains, THE LUDWIG CONSPIRACY is unquestionably an irresistible mystery."
In modern-day Munich, antiquarian bookseller Steven Lukas, happily reclusive amongst his dusty old tomes, finds himself in the midst of a race for his life after a gentleman flees his store in a panic. A puzzled Lukas takes a look around and discovers an ancient diary that he hasn’t seen before. It appears to have been written over a hundred years ago by a man named Theodor Marot, who turns out to have been King Ludwig II’s medical assistant. The writer claims to have witnessed the death of the king. The official story has always maintained that Ludwig drowned, being as mad as Alice’s hatter, along with his psychiatrist. Some accounts even hint that the king killed the doctor. But what really happened on June 13, 1886? Marot has written it all down in his diary, and Lukas holds the answer in his hands. Unfortunately, it is in code.
Well, Lukas knows a little about codes. He’s a man who has read many books, old and new, some dealing with ciphers and code breaking. At the very least, he has the means and the knowledge to track down the resources needed to unravel the mystery of the little book. But when his shop is ransacked and his treasured volumes left in ruins, the hairs on the nape of his neck stand on end. What is going on?
As Lukas is reeling from the sudden change in his life, along comes Sara Lengfeld. She tells Lukas that the man who left the diary in his shop was none other than her uncle, and he is now dead. Lengfeld has an air about her of someone hiding something. She calls herself an art detective, but details remain vague. Fortunately, her sense of urgency convinces the bookseller that they must find safety while working to decipher Marot’s story. What they discover takes them on a magical tour of Ludwig’s beautiful castles. Their travels would be highly enjoyable if only they could shake the men pursuing them who seem to have some gruesome ways of squeezing information out of their victims. From Munich to Linderhof to Neuschwanstein, it’s a merry --- and deadly --- chase.
Oliver Potzsch cleverly blends in 19th-century Bavarian history, as he alternates between King Ludwig’s last weeks and current times. Also intricately woven into the stories are two budding romances. Coupled with ciphers, codes, fairytale castles and evil villains, THE LUDWIG CONSPIRACY is unquestionably an irresistible mystery.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on September 27, 2013