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Posted March 16, 2011
I'd heard of Aaron Lazar's Gus LeGarde mysteries, but hadn't read any yet, so I had slightly mixed feelings when I got the chance to read the fourth in the series before trying the others. On the one hand, Mazurka starts in Paris, the location of some especially fond memories for me, so that was certainly an attraction. But on the other hand I was nervous that I might feel I was playing catch-up, chasing after characters that other readers already knew and loved.
I needn't have worried. Gus, Camille and Siegfried rapidly became real to me, as did the scenes they inhabited. Soon I was smelling and hearing Paris all around me as I sank into the story.
And tasting it!
The author's ability to evoke the flavor of a city, and a meal, is truly amazing. I frequently felt like I was sitting at the next table in a street-café. I could feel the texture as a French loaf was torn apart, and taste the crumbs on my tongue. I could see the flowers and hear the birds. And in a heartbeat, I was part of the confusion and fear all around as events transformed LeGarde's beautiful haven to a terror zone.
The author's wide-ranging skills are equally apparent in love scenes, in evocative passages filled with memories, and in death-defying action. His protagonists are at once believable and just plain nice, leaving the reader pleased to have met them and eager to spend more time in their company. And the enemy in Mazurka is one that has indeed been on the rise, in Europe and beyond. Lazar's handling of local history and the global nature of evil was very nicely done.
Then of course, there's that delightful thread of music through the tale, as befits the book's title, and a fascinating depiction of the world of long ago.
This was truly an enjoyable book, and an excellent introduction to a series that I'll hope to read more of. Many thanks for the invitation and the opportunity Mr. Lazar.
Posted September 14, 2009
Who is Gus LeGarde and why should you read a story about him? Gus is not your typical superhero type guy who saves the day by punching out the bad guy. Gus is just a guy who knows that luck and love are his greatest allies.
Gus is a widower with a grown daughter and grandchildren, but he's no doddering old man. He's also a professor with a new bride whom he wants to take to Europe for a honeymoon.
The trip turns out to be the honeymoon from hell.
The story starts with Gus and his bride Camille experiencing a turbulent flight into Paris. The reader is surprised, once the danger has passed, to discover that Gus has also brought along his good friend Siegfried. Siegfried, due to an accident in his childhood, has a few mental bends that make him socially inept and somewhat childlike. The reader instantly adores him.
The plan is to see a bit of Paris, deliver Siegfried to his relatives in Germany, and then Gus and Camille honeymoon in Vienna. But before the trio disembarks from the plane, Gus has a brief encounter with a neo-nazi. It's an omen of things to come.
In Paris, the neo-nazis are demonstrating and Siegfried gets caught up in the worst way possible. A man is killed, Siegfried is hospitalized and Gus and Camille are hunted.
Author Aaron Paul Lazar weaves the past and the present into this story, tying together nazis and neo-nazis, Chopin and a family secret into a tale that has the reader crossing her fingers for this strange collective of characters.
Gus LeGarde narrates the story and the reader is treated to a man that is at once chivalrous and new age, gentle yet forceful. The events of the story, such as being hunted in the catacombs and locked away for weeks in dungeons, show Gus to be a man who is aware of his limitations and uses brains more often than brawn. The story he tells is not about his own heroism, but that of those whom he loves.
The story is fast paced and the characters believable. The neo-nazis are scary and the family secret surprising. "Mazurka" has all the elements of a good read and though it is part of a series, the reader has no problem understanding Gus LeGarde's past and the impact it has on his character.
Posted July 19, 2011
No text was provided for this review.