Melody is a tremendously compelling modern mystery set in the recent past, about a man who loses his great love – the ‘Melody’ of the title – and spends the rest of his life searching for her.
This wonderfully romantic story is a captivating read, as well as an extended meditation on truth, memory, and the nature and purpose of storytelling. Set in Zurich and Greece, the narrative is smooth and enjoyable, full of innumerable plot twists and turns, which keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very end.
Dr. Peter Stotz, an eminent citizen of Zurich (a former member of the National Council, among other things), hires Tom Elmer, an unemployed young law graduate, to assist with his ordering his affairs. Stotz regales Tom with stories from his life, and in particular the tale of his great love, ‘Melody’, who disappeared suddenly a few days before their wedding and whose image surrounds them. Although Stotz claims he has searched for Melody ever since, he has never found her.
Tom moves into the guest apartment in Stotz’s Zurich villa, becoming an integral part of a long-established and very quirky household. He tackles the task for which he was hired by attempting to organise the many documents in Stotz’s possession. Later on, however, as he hears more of Stotz’s stories, he contemplates what to shred and what to keep, and in the end, who his employer actually is, the nature of memory, what his motivation for telling his life story might be, and finally, whether his stories are actually truth or fiction. In addition to the members of the household – Dr. Stotz, Tom, the cook Mariella, and the butler Roberto – the reader is introduced to a handful of well-developed characters, each of whom contributes to the stories of Dr. Stotz and the ultimate unspooling of the narrative, resolving the mystery of what happened to Melody.
The truth has many faces in Melody, encouraging the reader to question everything about this tightly plotted novel. And yet the narrative perspective and structure are expertly choreographed; the ending is not given away even a moment before the reader arrives at it. The Swiss setting is the icing on the cake, offering insights into life in Zurich.
All recommendations from Spring 2023