cover image Wolf on a String

Wolf on a String

Benjamin Black. Holt, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-1-62779-517-3

Black (The Black-Eyed Blonde) displays his mastery of yet another mystery subgenre in this brooding, atmospheric whodunit set in 16th-century Prague. Christian Stern, the bastard son of the Prince-Bishop of Regensburg, has arrived in that city in the hopes of winning the favor of Rudolf II, the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, and obtaining a place among the court’s learned men, such as Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe. The first night he spends in Prague, Stern finds Magdalena Kroll—the teenage daughter of Dr. Ulrich Kroll, Rudolf’s physician and “one of his chief wizards”—lying in a snowy street with her throat slit. Initially a suspect, Stern soon becomes the emperor’s designated investigator. In order to discover the truth behind the murder, he must navigate a realm in which no one can be fully trusted. Superior prose (Magdalena’s head rests in a pool of blood, a “black round in which the faint radiance of the heavens faintly glinted”) complements the intricate plot. Black is the pen name of Man Booker Prize–winner John Banville. [em]Agent: Ed Victor, Ed Victor Literary Agency (U.K.). (June) [/em]