Scott Mariani, “The Mozart Conspiracy”

The second novel of Scott Mariani’s series, The Mozart Conspiracy follows Ben Hope, a hero in the manner of James Bond, as he searches for the reason behind his friend Oliver’s death. Working together with Oliver’s sister, Ben uses all the tools at his disposal – including pistols and nail guns – to find his friend’s murderer. With elements of love, friendship and graphic violence, The Mozart Conspiracy is a wild ride of a novel.

Plot Overview: Conspiracies, Murder and Mozart

Ben Hope is a stoic, tense man, one who spends his life rescuing kidnapped children. When his ex-girlfriend, popular opera singer Leigh Llewellyn, reaches out to him following her brother’s murder, the soft-hearted and hard-bodied hero agrees to meet. Together, the two trace Oliver’s last steps and the origins of a mysterious letter written by Mozart.

As Ben and Leigh begin to discover who murdered Oliver and why, their lives and those of the people around them are threatened. Joining forces with a local Austrian police detective, Ben and Leigh fight off vicious thugs who are members of the sinister Order of Ra. Outnumbered, the trio will stop at nothing, not even murder, to find the truth.

Criticisms and Compliments

Mariani’s The Mozart Conspiracy is written in the same vein as Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code or Harlan Coben‘s Myron Bolitar series. Mariani, like Coben, provides a trickle of clues, each one guaranteeing the reader only knows as much as the characters. Both Mariani and Coben also appear to have such power over their plots, casually doling out information that leads to explosive reveals. And like Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, The Mozart Conspiracy exposes the secret and sometimes corrupt actions of an ancient society.

Mariani, who is a musician himself, thoughtfully explores the world of music as only someone with experience can. He writes with accuracy and a depth of feeling, and his background in music makes his proposed link between Mozart and the Freemasons that much more plausible. It is accepted knowledge that Mozart was a Freemason in his time and that The Magic Flute contains various Masonic symbols; Mariani, however, takes it one step further, suggesting that not only was Mozart an upstanding member of the society, but his death was also at the hands of a sinister side group.

The Mozart Conspiracy is a fast, page-turning read. Although Mariani does not shy away from describing violence and murder, his novel is terrific, both in its plot and in its protagonist, courageous Ben Hope.


  • Mariani, Scott. The Mozart Conspiracy: A Novel. Touchstone, 2011 ISBN 9781439193365

Marian Keyes, “The Other Side of the Story”

Set in the world of publishing, Marian Keyes’s The Other Side of the Story explores the lives and loves of three women, each connected to the other. Gemma Hogan is a wannabe writer who abandons her social life to care for her newly single mother; Jojo Harvey is a curvaceous and ambitious book agent who is having an affair with her married boss; and Lily Martin is a new mother with a runaway bestseller. A mammoth novel at almost 600 pages, The Other Side of the Story is an inside, almost voyeuristic look at publishing, infidelity and success.

Plot Overview: Love, Betrayal and Writing

Gemma Hogan’s world has been turned upside down: her boyfriend, Anton, left her for her best friend, Lily, her father just left her mother for his secretary, and her new haircut is anything but flattering. Bitter by the betrayal of Anton and her father, Gemma is now forced to sacrifice her social life to care for her emotionally needy mother. As her life settles into a new rhythm, Gemma begins to accept the punches life has thrown at her and turns to writing as release. Soon after, her friend, Susan, to whom Gemma has been sending her tales of woe, passes on her emails to ball-breaking literary agent Jojo.

Lily Wright, guilty of stealing Gemma’s boyfriend, is trying to find a balance between happiness and shame. Although she has a beautiful daughter and a man who loves her, Lily can barely hold herself together. When her first novel takes off and the pressure mounts for her to write a second, she finds that she can’t care for her life, her finances or her career.

Jojo Harvey’s life is a mess. She is deep into an affair with her boss, and her most successful writer, Lily, isn’t churning out a second bestseller. Jojo is also gunning for a promotion, but her coworker, slimy Richie Gant, is heavy competition for the position. As Jojo’s career and love lives collide, she must face the morality of her actions and decide if she wants to continue being a woman in a man’s world.

Criticisms and Compliments

The Other Side of the Story reads as three novels in one; Gemma, Jojo and Lily each deserve their own story, and at a hefty 528 pages, The Other Side of the Story is no quick, chick-lit read. It is, however, funny and charming, and Keyes has a wonderful ability to weave together various plot lines. The result is a smoothly written, clever novel.

Like This Charming Man, The Other Side of the Story features women with unique voices and distinct senses of humor. Keyes’s characters are not silly and absentminded like those of chick-lit writers Helen Fielding or Sophie Kinsella, and she easily explores the absurdities of love and life. Moreover, in a satisfying resolution, Keyes briefly hints at where each character stands after having confronted the complications of her life. The Other Side of the Story is a terrific read; the only disappointing part is that the novel comes to an end.


  • Keyes, Marian. The Other Side of the Story. Avon A, 2006. ISBN 9780060731489.