The Ludwig Conspiracy by Oliver Pötzsch is about a bookseller who stumbles upon the writings, photographs, and other documents of the last in the now extinguished line of Bavarian Monarchy.
WHY I PICKED IT UP:
The jacket synopsis paints a picture–a mystery amid Baroque castles in the modern day, and a monarch’s prize awaiting the one who solves the puzzle! I like the premise and I like things that have a historical basis and I REALLY love when authors can vividly create this type of setting.
WHERE/WHY I STOPPED:
I stopped in the middle of chapter one after the main character‘s third wave of what I can only assume is psychic premonition. In other words, as our main character is confronted by other characters “something” tells him not to trust them, or “something” urges him not to let this macguffin out of his sight. I find it highly unsatisfying and fourth wall breaking.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER, IF ANYTHING:
Quick overview of the positivies— The author has a strong opening in which our antagonist (refered to only as ‘The King’) interrogates and then beats someone concerning the macguffin’s location. I like this character because it’s clearly shown (not told) that he dislikes violence, but engages in it to get what he wants when frustrated. This is the telltale mark of a flawed character–conflicting beleifs/actions–and it’s a good idea to have one. Although most people make him the MAIN character… But to me our villain is much more interesting than the main charachter.
Also, instant cred for making the main character the owner of a rare bookshop. Many readers are also bibliophiles and this is a decent way to establish a connection.
That said, our main character–another “bachelor by choice”–has little other distinguishing features apart from running a bookshop, liking tea, and not getting laid.
The biggest flaw–our uninteresting MC’s psychic link to the plot–could be easily fixed through SHOWING what the other characters do to tip MC off. Does the guy shift his eyes back and forth quickly? Does his jacket open slightly, revealing a gun? Does he chuckle mirthlessly while twiddling his pencil moustache? There has to be something going on to indicate this guy can’t be trusted.
One gut feeling is ok–people get them in real life, too–but Pötzsch put THREE within the first chapter.
The Ludwig Conspiracy sounded like fun, and I am still curious. At the same time, those fourth-wall breaking things made it hard for me to read.