Paul Preston’s history The Spanish Holocaust is now out in trade paperback. Here’s publisher Norton’s blurb:
Long neglected by European historians, the unspeakable atrocities of Franco’s Spain are finally brought to tragic light in this definitive work.
The remains of General Francisco Franco lie in an immense mausoleum near Madrid, built with the blood and sweat of twenty thousand slave laborers. His enemies, however, met less-exalted fates. Besides those killed on the battlefield, tens of thousands were officially executed between 1936 and 1945, and as many again became “non-persons.” As Spain finally reclaims its historical memory, a full picture can now be given of the Spanish Holocaust-ranging from judicial murders to the abuse of women and children. The story of the victims of Franco’s reign of terror is framed by the activities of four key men-General Mola, Quiepo de Llano, Major Vallejo Najera, and Captain Don Gonzalo Aguilera-whose dogma of eugenics, terrorization, domination, and mind control horrifyingly mirror the fascism of Italy and Germany.
Evoking such classics as Gulag and The Great Terror, The Spanish Holocaust sheds crucial light on one of the darkest and most unexamined eras of modern European history.
An eminent and prolific British historian of modern Spain, Preston says this was “an extremely painful book to write.” It is also, unlike several of his other works, a difficult book to read. The newcomer to Spanish history will nowhere learn the difference between the Assault Guard and the Civil Guard, or between a Carlist and an integrist. Chapters roll on for 40 or 50 pages without a break. A blizzard of names of thousands of perpetrators and the towns where they carried out their tortures and killings overwhelms the reader. “The Spanish Holocaust” is not really a narrative but a comprehensive prosecutor’s brief. With its immense documentation — 120 pages of endnotes to both published and unpublished material in at least five languages, including corrections of errors in these sources — it is bound to be an essential reference for anything written on the subject for years to come.
A nice stack from the good folks at Picador this month, including two new entries in their ongoing Nadine Gordimer reissues. I like the design on the series:
There’s also a reissue of Denis Johnson’s 1991 novel Resuscitation of a Hanged Man, which I haven’t read, but will read soon, because Johnson is just one of those writers I’ll end up reading everything by eventually. From a 1991 NYT review of the novel:
There has never been any doubt about Denis Johnson’s ability to write a gorgeous sentence. The author of “Angels,” “Fiskadoro” and “The Stars at Noon” has become increasingly musical in his prose, and his latest novel, “Resuscitation of a Hanged Man,” depends on such sentences as the primary unit of narrative motion. The novel seems, like a poem, to be written line to line. It is very much a book about one man, one sensibility.
At the outset of the novel, Leonard English, driving to the tip of Cape Cod in the off season, stops for a drink, then spins out of control, running his car onto a traffic island. He ends up taking a taxi to his destination, which is Provincetown. He has attempted suicide before the book’s beginning; now he is moving to the Cape to work for Ray Sands, a private investigator who also owns a small radio station. When we can see him most clearly, English seems very similar to the narrator of the short story — drifting, guilty, in a world of strangers, striving to connect with another person and with his God.
Last year’s With Liberty and Justice for Some is out now in trade paperback. If you are even slightly familiar Glenn Greenwald’s columns at Salon, you’ll likely know what to expect. For those of us predisposed to agree with his analyses, With Liberty and Justice for Some is likely to inspire outrage and a certain kind of fatigue.
American history is suffused with violations of equality before the law. The country was steeped in such violations at its founding. But even when this principle was being violated, its supremacy was also being affirmed: resoundingly and unanimously in the case of the founders. That the rule of law—not the rule of men—would reign supreme was one of the few real points of agreement among all the founders. Arguably it was the primary one.
There’s an obvious element of hypocrisy in this fact; espousing a principle that one simultaneously breaches in action is hypocrisy’s defining attribute. But there’s also a more positive side: the country’s vigorous embrace of the principle of equality before law enshrined it as aspiration. It became the guiding precept for how “progress” was understood, for how the union would be perfected.
And the most significant episodes of progress over the next two centuries—the emancipation of slaves, the ending of Jim Crow, the enfranchisement and liberation of women, vastly improved treatment for Native Americans and gay Americans—were animated by this ideal. That happened because “blind justice”—equality before law—was orthodoxy in American political culture. The principle was sacrosanct even when it was imperfectly applied.
The Ford pardon of Nixon changed that, radically and permanently. When President Ford went on national television to explain to an angry, skeptical citizenry why the most powerful political actor would be fully immunized for the felonies he got caught committing, Ford expressly rejected the rule of law. He paid lip service to its core principle—the “law is no respecter of persons”—but then tacked on a newly concocted amendment designed to gut that principle: “but the law is a respecter of reality.”
In other words, if—in the judgment of political leaders—it’s sufficiently disruptive, divisive, or distracting to hold powerful political officials accountable under the law on equal terms with ordinary Americans, then they should be exempt and the rule of law suspended, all in the name of political harmony, of “moving on.” But of course, it willalways be divisive and distracting, by definition, to prosecute the most powerful political leaders, so Ford’s rationale, predictably, created a template for elite immunity.
The rationale for Ford’s pardon of Nixon was subsequently legitimized, and it created a precedent for shielding the most powerful elites from the consequences of their lawbreaking. The arguments Ford offered are the same ones now hauled out over and over whenever it is time to argue why the most powerful among us should not be held accountable: It’s not just for the good of the immunized criminal, but in the common good, to Look Forward, Not Backward. This direct assault on the rule of law was pioneered by the pardon of Richard Nixon.
Steve Sem-Sandberg’s The Emperor of Lies is a Swedish novel in English Translation by Sarah Death. Look, I’m generally dismissive of Holocaust fiction because 1) the sheer number of books that come in to Biblioklept World Headquarters that use the Holocaust as a milieu and 2) the tacky and generally lazy way that such books often attempt to manipulate their audiences. Still, The Emperor of Lies seems like it’s probably a sight better than most such books, and it’s gotten generally good reviews, including this one from The Independent (UK), which apparently thinks that a book review of five sentences is fine:
Any writer – let alone one from neutral Sweden – who sets out to place another brick in the vast wall of Holocaust fiction must be deluded or inspired. Astonishing to report: Sem-Sandberg belongs in the tiny second band.
Utterly involving, morally scrupulous, written with a verve and pace that belie its dreadful setting, The Emperor of Lies – in Sarah Death’s masterly translation – really does renew the genre.
Its portrait of resistance and survival in the ghetto of Lodz between 1940 and 1944 focuses on the monstrous enigma of Chaim Rumkowski, despotic overlord of his fellow-Jews. Sem-Sandberg catches his capricious charisma. Other characters, who record their fate or fight it, also shine, while their tragic destiny moves on at mesmerising speed.
The kind people at Picador sent me a box of books, including a memoir (Margaux Fragoso’s Tiger, Tiger), a few novels (The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan; Ralph Sassone’s The Intimates; Alan Glynn’s noir thriller Bloodland; Dieter Schlesak’s The Druggist of Auschwitz, which purports to be a “documentary novel”; and Zoë Heller’s first novel, Everything You Know), and a work of political science (Ari Berman’s Herding Donkeys).
A box of books is a bit overwhelming, but I make it a point to spend some time with every book that comes into Biblioklept World Headquarters. Here’s some thoughts on these.
I actually ended up reading almost all of The Lover’s Dictionary, despite it having the word “lover” in the title, which, jeez. When my wife picked it up, she said something like, “How can they call this a novel?” — fair question, because the book is structured like a dictionary. In point of illustration:
I’ve got a bigger post on Levithan’s book coming up, one that tries to situate it in the context of other non-novelly novels—but in short it is a novel, a very contemporary one that tells the oldest story in the proverbial book (boy meets girl) in an elliptical way that suits our post-information age. Like I said more to come, but for now: The Lover’s Dictionary is funny, occasionally cruel, too-often saccharine, awfully real, sometimes deeply flawed, but consistently engaging (sorry for all the adverbs).
I imagine Margaux Fragoso’s memoir Tiger, Tiger will capture the fascination of a large audience, but half an hour of the book was almost more than I could bear. Not because Fragoso can’t write—far from it, in fact—but her subject matter, which is to say her stolen childhood, is rendered too raw, too real for me; there’s nothing pulpy or lurid about Fragoso’s work, nor is there the aesthetic sheen of Lolita to gloss any of the ugly, sordid details. Kathryn Harrison ponders the question of Tiger, Tiger’s audience in her favorable review at The New York Times:
So who — other than voyeurs looking for a sustained close-up of a pedophile in action — will want to read this book? To bear witness to a numbingly long series of violations of a child by a man who has honed his wickedness for decades is not more pleasant than it sounds. As a society we energetically oppose sexual abuse; as individuals most of us shy away from investigating a relationship characterized by creepy kisses and inappropriate fondling. Worse, we defend cowardice by calling it discretion — minding our own business. Maybe a book like “Tiger, Tiger” can help us be a little braver. Certainly, it took courage to write.
Ralph Sassone’s The Intimates: sex scenes (straight and gay); lots of notations about parents; lots of characters.
Dieter Schlesak’s The Druggist of Auschwitz: This “documentary novel” blends actual testimony from the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, interviews with camp guards and prisoners, and fictional narrative to tell the true story of Dr. Victor Capesius, an SS officer who worked with Mengele. The book is less gimmicky than it sounds in this description, and if its documentary elements are blunter and less ambiguous than W.G. Sebald’s historical fragments, I suppose that’s what the subject matter merits.
Alan Glynn’s new novel Bloodland (a Picador paperback original) is a noirish thriller set against the backdrop of political and corporate intrigue. Glynn writes with terse immediacy, telegraphing the plot in short punchy sentences that recall James Ellroy (without the finnicky slang). The book reads almost like a movie script, vivid and concrete. It’s a fast-paced page turner with a smart plot, just the sort of thing one wants from a thriller.
Herding Donkeys by Ari Berman: Honestly not my thing, but if you want to read about the DNC from the time of Howard Dean to the rise of Barrack Obama, this is probably a book for you.
Zoë Heller’s Everything You Know: This is new in paperback again after over a decade. The story focuses on a cantankerous, unlikable son-of-a-bitch named Willy Muller. Things aren’t going well for him: he’s just suffered a heart attack, his daughter’s committed suicide, and the public still believes he murdered his wife. No wonder he hates humanity. Heller is probably most famous for her novel Notes on a Scandal, which was adapted into an excellent film in 2006.
Biblioklept’s picks: The Lover’s Dictionary; Tiger, Tiger; Bloodland.
Like Kafka, H.G. Adler was a German-speaking Jewish writer from Prague. About a year ago, Adler’s Panorama was released for the first time in in English (by Peter Filkins); The book is now available in trade paperback (Random House). Adler survived the Holocaust, forced first into Theresienstadt and then Auschwitz, where his wife and mother were murdered in the gas chambers. Panorama is an autobiographical bildungsroman, with its hero, young Josef Kramer, standing in for Adler. While the book clearly works its way into grim territory, the beginning is bucolic and sweet and strange, an account of young Josef at home with his family. There’s a cinematic scope to Adler’s prose – Panorama is a Modernist work, one where the narrative freely dips into its protagonist’s mind. By the bye, W.G. Sebald references Adler in Austerlitz, a book that tries to measure the continental memory of the Holocaust.
The New Yorker has published “Deniers,” a new story by Biblioklept fave Sam Lipsyte. Excerpt—
“Trauma this, atrocity that, people ought to keep their traps shut,” Mandy’s father said. American traps tended to hang open. Pure crap poured out. What he and the others had gone through shouldn’t have a name, he told her friend Tovah, all those years later in the nursing home. People gave names to things so they could tell stories about them, goddam fairy tales about children who got out alive.
Mandy’s father, Jacob, had never said anything like this to Mandy, not in any of his tongues. He’d said other things, or nothing at all. He had worked for thirty-nine years as a printer in Manhattan. The founders of the company had invented the Yellow Pages.
“Think about that,” he’d often said.
Mandy did think about it, the thick directory that used to boost her up on her stool at the kitchen counter.
She’d spent her childhood mornings at that counter, culling raisins from her cereal, surveying the remains of her father’s dawn meal, his toast crusts, the sugared dregs in his coffee mug. Sometimes she’d wondered if he would come home from work that day, but it was a game, because he always came home. He’d eat his dinner and take to his reclining—or, really, collapsing—chair, listen to his belly gurgle, read popular histories of the American West. Maybe he’d watch a rerun of “Hogan’s Heroes,” the only show he could abide.
His gastric arias mostly stood in for conversation, but some evenings he managed a few words, such as the night he spotted Mandy’s library book on the credenza. This teen novel told the story of a suburban boy who befriends an elderly neighbor, a wanted Nazi. Mandy watched her father study the book from across the room. The way he handled it made her think he was scornful of its binding or paper stock, but then he read the dust flap, shuddered. He whispered in his original language, the one he rarely used, so glottal, abyssal.
Timothy Snyder’s monumental new history Bloodlands is a staggering work of scholarship. Using primary sources written in at least ten languages, Snyder documents the nightmarish history of that portion of eastern Europe that stretches from Poland north to St. Petersburg and sweeps southwest to the point where Ukraine runs into the Black Sea. In these places, the titular bloodlands, the policies of Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin converged to kill approximately 14 million people in less than a quarter of a century. Snyder postulates that the eradication of such large numbers of human beings was possible because National Socialism was the perfect foil to Soviet Communism, and vice versa, and because each system allowed totalitarian one-party states to deflect blame for their respective failings onto the other, or onto large groups of relatively powerless national, ethnic, or religious minorities. Rectifying problems required starving, shooting, gassing, or otherwise disappearing hundreds of thousands of the people who inhabited these regions and who had no intention or ability to subvert whichever ruling regime claimed them as subjects at any particular moment. The particular atrocities committed in these areas were largely overlooked in the West at the close of World War II as these victims and their memories disappeared behind the Iron Curtain.
The book begins not in 1941 when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union but a decade earlier. After Lenin’s death, Josef Stalin found himself at the head of the Soviet Union’s security forces as well its sole ruling party. When he recognized that revolutions were not about to sweep over the rest of capitalist Europe, Stalin prioritized ensuring that the U.S.S.R. remained a strong Communist nation and a beacon of hope to committed Marxists across the world. Despite the Communist ethos that capitalist excess would be negated by exploited industrial workers in urban environments, the Bolshevik Revolution had taken place in one of Europe’s most diverse and rural populations. When Stalin took it upon himself to collectivize Soviet agriculture, disaster struck in the Ukraine and Bloodlands’ long and nuanced chronicle of paranoia and death properly begins.
The famine in the Soviet Union’s most fertile land, the Ukraine, caused at least 3 million people to starve in the early part of the 1930s. After the seed needed to plant next year’s crop was requisitioned for the collective, nothing remained to eat and there was no future to look forward to, either. People died where they fell, women prostituted themselves for bread, parents gave their children away to strangers, and villages ceased to exist. Fires in chimneys marked the presence of cannibals. Snyder writes–
In the cities carts would make rounds early in the mornings to remove the peasant dead of the night before. In the countryside the healthier peasants formed brigades to collect the corpses and bury them. They rarely had the inclination or the strength to dig graves very deeply, so that hands and feet could be seen above the earth.
In order to ensure their own corporeal and political survival, the Soviet leadership responsible for collecting the harvest had to steal whatever they could from the hungry.
And so it continued. Hitler rose to power partially on the basis of his powerful condemnation of the popular German Communist parties, and used the famine in the U.S.S.R. to bolster arguments that doomed the opposition to his left and center. Although Stalin argued that all the excesses of capitalism could be seen in the racist and nationalistic rhetoric spewing from the Nazis, these two nations signed a non-aggression pact and started the war in 1939 when they jointly invaded Poland. The Soviet reign of terror commenced and the secret police killed and deported hundreds of thousands of class enemies and nationalists in Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic states. The Germans and the Soviets began to move Poles out of their homes. The Germans designed policies meant to kill educated Poles in order to create a population amenable to slavery. The Soviets killed Polish military officers who were capable of leading uprisings against their new rulers. Both nations instituted their first policies of mass shootings contemporaneously.
When Hitler disregarded the treaty and invaded the Soviet Union (which now included the portions of Poland both nations had agreed to share), already vulnerable populations were decimated. Nazism required that a superior race must take what it needed without regard to rule of law or human empathy. Advancing German forces who came upon obvious signs of recent brutality by the retreating secret police forces of the U.S.S.R. and the Red Army saw “a confirmation of what that had been trained to see: Soviet criminality, supposedly steered by and for the benefit of Jews.” Hundreds of thousands of Soviet prisoners of war were condemned to die of starvation and exposure in makeshift camps. Heinrich Himmler and Hermann Göring implemented a Hunger Plan, which, although unsuccessful, aimed to “transform eastern Europe into an exterminatory agrarian colony” by purposefully starving its inhabitants or deporting them to Siberia. The German plan to achieve victory in Leningrad involved cutting off food supplies to the city’s 3.5 million inhabitants and covering all possible escape routes with landmines which would eliminate potential evacuees. Even before the German security forces began purposefully destroying Jewish populations, a culture of cruelty and privation had been foisted upon innocent civilian populations.
The Jewish populations of cities and regions that had housed their families and their cultures for centuries were then systematically and brutally annihilated. Snyder argues that Western minds have processed the Holocaust in a certain manner because in our history, the accounts of the soldiers who liberated camps in conquered lands to the south and west of the Reich predominate. We have been privileged to hear the stories of survivors from the camps at Auschwitz like Primo Levy and Elie Wiesel, but Snyder points out that the labor and death camps at Auschwitz did not come on-line until near the end of the war and most of those sentenced to labor or die there were brought from German holdings in western Europe. Bloodlands is important because it documents that most of the horrors of the Holocaust were committed in the east. 69,750 of Latvia’s 80,000 Jewish citizens were killed by the end of 1941 by bullets. With the help of Lithuanian conscripts and rifles, the Germans killed at least 114,000 of that nation’s 200,000 Jewish citizens. Estonian volunteers for the S.S. killed all 963 Estonian Jews that could be found. Himmler’s security forces were supposed to “pacify” annexed territories. In Kiev, 33,761 human beings were killed in little more than a day by the concerted efforts of S.S. commandos and conscripted local forces as part of a sustained effort to eradicate Ukrainian Jews. Snyder continues–
Having surrendered their valuables and documents, people were forced to strip naked. Then they were driven by threats or by shots fired overhead, in groups of about ten, to the edge of a ravine known as Babi Yar. Many of them were beaten . . . They had to lie down on their stomachs on the corpses already beneath them, and wait for the shots to come from above and behind. Then would come the next group. Jews came and died for thirty-six hours.
The ghettos were in the east as were the death camps of Treblinka, Sobibor, and Belzec. By invading Poland and the Soviet Union, Hitler conquered the nations with the largest Jewish populations on the planet, and when it became evident that the German army, like Napoleon’s previously, were unable to conquer Moscow and the icy Russian plains, the death camps were opened with the express purpose to kill massive numbers of people in the shortest period of time. Treblinka, Sobibor, and Belzec were well-engineered for their horrible purpose of killing those who remained behind.
Snyder asks the readers to remember that the lives he documents died because of policies that existed in the Soviet Union and Nazi German that promoted and committed deliberate mass murder. The act of recording and remembering must be initiated where evidence is so easy to destroy or manipulate. People complicit in the murder of their neighbors will attempt to mitigate their shame. Even those with no connection to such events would probably rather think of something more pleasant. Where the Nazis razed the Warsaw ghetto and dismantled the death camp at Treblinka in a matter of hours, Stalin purposefully changed the course of the historical discussion in the U.S.S.R. in order to promote nationalism. The suffering of Jews and other innocents was sublimated to the overall suffering of the Soviet (mostly Russian) population.
14 million people. Farmers, prisoners, gypsies, peasants, freedom fighters, and the unlucky. Wives, fathers, and children. Everyone died to placate ideologies that a great number of people of good conscience did not discount at the time. Although the historical record is expanding, it seems inconceivable that our knowledge of such events could ever be perfected. Appreciate your loved ones and relish the warmth in your homes and in your bodies. Essential knowledge for every conscious, conscientious person. Absolutely recommended.
I shouldn’t be reading five novels at once. It’s a terrible idea, a symptom of a bad habit that I thought I’d broken, but after abandoning Levin’s tedious tome The Instructions and wasting my time on Shteyngart’s insipid dystopian novel Super Sad True Love Story, I found myself absorbed by a lovely little cache that had been neatly, patiently stacked for a few weeks now.
I’m only 60 or so pages into Lars Iyer’s Spurious — about a third of the way through — and at the rate I’m reading, I won’t finish it until the end of this month. It’s not that it’s slow or tedious or hard work: quite the opposite, in fact — it’s funny and lively, even when it’s erudite and depressive. I’ve enjoyed taking it in as a series of vignettes or skits or riffs. Spurious is about, or seems to be about (the term must be placed under suspicion) two would-be intellectuals, W. and his friend the narrator. They bitch and moan and despair: it’s the end of the world, it’s the apocalypse; they find themselves incapable of original thought, of producing any good writing. The shadow of Kafka paralyzes them. They travel about Europe, seeking out knowledge and inspiration — or at least a glimpse of some beautiful first editions. W. is cruel to the narrator, calling him fat and deriding his intellect for sport. But it’s all in good fun. Or maybe not. I’m really enjoying Spurious and have no hesitation recommending it; however, like a strong shot of bourbon, it’s best enjoyed frequently but in small doses. Spurious is brand spanking new from Melville House.
Iyer’s book dovetails nicely with W.G. Sebald’s first novel, Vertigo, which I picked up expressly to get the bad taste of Shteyngart out of my brain. Both books are haunted by Kafka, both blur the lines between fiction and biography, both are works of and about flânerie, and both are melancholy. The book comprises four sections; the first section tells the story of the romantic novelist Stendhal (or, more to the point, a version of Stendhal); the second section details two trips Sebald made to Italy, one in 1980, and one in 1987; the third section, which I just read last night, describes a trip Kakfa took to Italy near the end of his life. I’m almost certain that I’ve read this section, “Dr. K Takes the Waters at Riva,” before — but I can’t remember where or when. It was strange reading it, almost as if I were experiencing some of the vertigo that permeates the volume. Full review forthcoming.
Kafka was a German-speaking Jewish writer from Prague. So was H.G. Adler, author ofPanorama, new in English for the first time (hardback; Random House). Another way to transition from the Sebald paragraph above to this write-up of Panorama might be to point out that Sebald references Adler in Austerlitz, a book that tries to measure continental memory of the Holocaust. Adler survived the Holocaust, forced first into Theresienstadt and then Auschwitz, where his wife and mother were murdered in the gas chambers. Panorama is an autobiographical bildungsroman, with its hero young Josef Kramer standing in for Adler, and while it will clearly work its way into grim territory, the beginning — which is to say, the part that I’ve read so far — is bucolic and sweet and strange, as we see young Josef at home with his family. There’s a cinematic scope to Adler’s prose — Panorama is a Modernist work, one where the narrative freely dips into its protagonist’s mind. More to come.
Continuing in this Teutonic vein is Heinrich Böll’s novel The Clown (also Melville House). It’s postwar Germany, and Hans Schnier is a clown who’s crashing and burning. He hurts himself–purposefully–during a performance (at one of the increasingly more provincial venues he finds himself playing for these days) and retreats to Bonn, where he holes up in his small apartment and makes angry desperate phone calls (and tries not to drink too much brandy) and reflects on his past. What’s eating him up? His gal Marie, basically his common-law wife, has reverted back to her Catholic ways and up and left him for some chump named Zupfner. Schnier rants against a complacent and complicit German bourgeoisie, spitting vitriol against Protestants and Catholics alike; some of the best parts of the novel though are his ravings about art and the role of the “artiste” in society. Also: he can smell over the phone. Full review soon.
Wesley Stace’s new novel Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer (new from Picador) is a musical murder mystery set in the early part of 20th century Britain. Our (seemingly less than reliable) narrator Leslie Shepherd is a music critic with an aristocratic background who likes to spend his weekends collecting folk songs with other rich boys in the towns surrounding their country manors. He’s smitten (platonically, of course) with Charles Jessold, a middle class composer with a spark of avant-garde genius, and wins the younger man’s friendship quickly when he tells the story of Carlo Gesualdo, a fifteenth century composer/lord who kills his wife and her lover. (Notice the etymological connection between their names?) This tale of murder and cuckoldry is doubled in the ballad “Little Musgrave“; when Jessold and Shepherd find a new variation of the ballad, they set out to write the next (only?) great English opera, an adaptation of “Musgrave.” Oh, and that plot? The book opens with a news clipping reporting that Jessold killed his wife and her lover, and then himself, after the première of his opera Little Musgrave. Life imitates art imitates life. Stace has a keen ear for the period he writes about as well as a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge about music, but he also has the good sense to restrain himself and remember that he’s delivering a murder mystery. I’ve been enjoying Jessold quite a bit, and will return to it when I finish writing these lines. (And, for what it’s worth, part of Jessold is set in Germany).