Book review: Mozart’s Last Aria

Mozart’s Last Aria

Mozart's Last Aria

Mozart Last Aria
Matt Rees
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Pub. Date: 2011
ISBN: 978-0262015860
Pages:  303
Historical fiction
Bought a book sales

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This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

         hf-reading-challenge-2013 New Authors 2013 aroundtheworld2012


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I love historical fiction, mysteries, and classical music, so I really had to try this one. Reviews have been harsh towards it, but I have to say, I really enjoyed it. The book opens with Mozart’s youngest son opening a journal left by his aunt, Maria Anna, “Nannerl”, Mozart’s sister. I’m not sure this extra setting was necessary, but after this prologue, I was caught.

One day, Nannerl receives a letter than her brother died. But it appears that before dying, he knew he had been poisoned. Nannerl decides to go to Vienna to try to figure out what really happened and who did it.

I really enjoyed how suddenly the plot widens and involves Mozart’s music and political involvement, as well as European politics and history. The historical novel soon turns into mystery and crime novel. For those who know well Mozart’s work, this will be no big news, so I guess it is no spoiler to tell you that Mozart was a freemason.

Now, there’s freemason and freemason.

Masons today in the US seem to me rather harmless people, actually very involved in charitable activities, especially for disabled children. When I was living in France, the word “franc maçon” was always said with caution in my little village. It implied very secret, occult stuff, with mean consequences. And that was late 20th century! If you go back to late 18th century, add to that major political schemes, maybe even with the aim to overturn governments.

I was totally stunned to discover in Mozart’s Last Aria that his major work, one of my favorite, The Magic Flute, is apparently loaded with freemason symbols. One of many conspiracy theories I had no idea about. The novel implies that Mozart had some very new, original, and revolutionary ideas he wanted to introduce in masonry, and he used his work to transmit his message secretly.But then, someone did not like that very much… You will have to read the book to know what that message was of course.

There’s a map of Vienna at the beginning of the book, and a list of all the music of Mozart mentioned in the novel at the end, as well as some extras to help you enjoy even more your reading.
If you like Mozart, historical fiction, European history, mysteries, and conspiracy theories, you really need to read this book. It is an easy read, with great descriptions on life in Vienna in the 18th century.


The news arrives in a letter to his sister, Nannerl, in December 1791. But the message carries more than word of Nannerl’s brother’s demise. Two months earlier, Mozart confided to his wife that his life was rapidly drawing to a close . . . and that he knew he had been poisoned.

In Vienna to pay her final respects, Nannerl soon finds herself ensnared in a web of suspicion and intrigue—as the actions of jealous lovers, sinister creditors, rival composers, and Mozart’s Masonic brothers suggest that dark secrets hastened the genius to his grave. As Nannerl digs deeper into the mystery surrounding her brother’s passing, Mozart’s black fate threatens to overtake her as well.

Transporting readers to the salons and concert halls of eighteenth-century Austria, Mozart’s Last Aria is a magnificent historical mystery that pulls back the curtain on a world of soaring music, burning passion, and powerful secrets. [Goodreads]





Matt Rees

I’m an award-winning British crime novelist. Major authors have compared my writing with the work of Graham Greene, John Le Carre, Georges Simenon and Henning Mankell. French magazine L’Express calls me “the Dashiell Hammett of Palestine.”

To research my latest book, a mystery about Caravaggio called A NAME IN BLOOD, I learned to paint with oils and fight with a rapier. I grew a beard and dyed it black, like his. I stumbled around Malta, as he had done, thinking someone violent was chasing me….I like to get inside the head of my main character. Or the other way around….

A NAME IN BLOOD is my second historical mystery. In 2011, I published MOZART’S LAST ARIA, a historical thriller set in Vienna in 1791. The main character is Wolfgang Mozart’s sister Nannerl, who investigates the great composer’s death. It’s based on my own love for Mozart’s music, my fascination with his often-forgotten, talented sister, and my reading of recent historical research which shows that Wolfgang may well have died suspiciously.

I came up with the idea for Omar Yussef, the Palestinian sleuth at the heart of my Palestine Quartet, while chatting with my wife in our favorite hotel, the Ponte Sisto in the Campo de’Fiori in Rome. I realized I had become friends with many colorful Palestinians who’d given me insights into the dark side of their society. Like the former Mister Palestine (he dead-lifts 900 pounds), a one-time bodyguard to Yasser Arafat (skilled in torture), and a delightful fellow who was a hitman for Arafat during the 1980s. To tell the true-life stories I’d amassed over more than a decade as a foreign correspondent, I decided to channel the reporting into a crime series. Palestine’s reality is no romance novel.

The Palestine Quartet won a CWA Dagger in the UK. It was also nominated for prizes in the US and France. Colin Dexter, author of the Inspector Morse novels, called Omar Yussef “a splendid creation.”

My books have been sold to leading publishers in 25 countries. [Goodreads]




8 thoughts on “Book review: Mozart’s Last Aria

  1. Oh that just looks delicious… there are two plays that I’ve been to that were Mozart – related… one from Salieri’s perspective on their relationship, and one based in his later life when his world went horridly pear shaped before his death. As for HF reads… none. I will have to remedy that


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