M.J. Rose follows up last year's outstanding The Reincarnationist with a pseudo-sequel that continues the theme of reincarnation and repeats one or two minor characters, but takes the story in a new direction with a new cast.
The Memorist divides its plot between modern-day Vienna and the 19th-century version, following the trail of a mysterious flute that supposedly contains the secret to unlocking past lives. In the story two centuries years past, the flute is pursued by an aristocrat and her piano teacher, Beethoven. In the present, it's sought by a young woman who refuses to believe in reincarnation despite her experiences to the contrary.
Rose tells an ambitious story with The Memorist, a fast-paced tale of suspense torn between two different time periods. If it lacks some of the "wow" of The Reincarnationist, it compensates with the smooth polish of its well-crafted prose. Few authors would have the moxie to attempt such a daring story, but Rose pulls it off.
From the Chicago Sun-Times, December 7, 2008