In 1886, Ludwig II, the Fairy-tale King of Bavaria, was deposed after being declared insane by doctors who had never met him. He died mysteriously soon thereafter, his eccentric and beautiful castles his only legacy. In The Ludwig Conspiracy, master of historical suspense Oliver Pötzsch brings the Mad King back to life. An encoded diary by one of Ludwig’s confidants falls into the hands of modern-day rare-book dealer Steven Lukas, who soon realizes that the diary may bring him more misery than money. Lukas teams up with a beautiful art detective, Sara Lengfeld, to investigate each of Ludwig’s three famous castles for clues to crack the diary’s code as mysterious thugs and Ludwig’s fanatical followers chase them at every step. Just what in the diary could be so explosive?---Amazon.com Summary
Since reading Oliver Pötzsch Hangman’s Daughter Series, I have grown to really enjoy his style of writing and I looked forward to reading this new one, The Ludwig Conspiracy. That being said, I feel as though this wasn’t what I hoped for. The writing was lovely and the author has a great knack for describing the scenes so that the imagination can paint a picture. The history and facts were laid out and yet the characters just didn’t hold as well as I would have liked. As much as I judge formula writing, I have to admit it has its advantages. There as certain boxes that have to be checked in order for a novel to work and at times it can help round out an otherwise flat story line. This story follows an idea, and a formula similar to The Da Vinci Code and the National Treasure series.
I hadn’t really heard of Ludwig II in any real sense except to know that the Disneyland castle was mirrored off of his castle. Even in German class, he was only touched upon, before moving on to more modern leaders of Germany and Austria. Historical fiction as a whole genre is a gift in that regard. It takes historical characters that the average reader might not have more than a baseline understanding of who they are and through the novel, the readers learn to care about them and their story. This isn’t just my viewpoint obviously if one looks at how many stories are written about the Tudor family alone. The story is broken up into two tales one in modern times and another in the time of Ludwig II. The history in the story is solid and the end of monarchs usually have good stories behind them. This is no exception. Anyone who read and enjoyed the Da Vinci Code, will like this to a degree. I would equate it to a nice summer read of a book. You don't expect as much out of it and are pleasantly surprised when it's good.
While the writing was well done, the characters weren't fleshed out very well. Couple that with the fact that every character had to have some twist to their lives left me suspicious and not sure who I was rooting for. Not only do both narrators have their honesty questioned, but they are both obviously hiding something. The problem with this unreliable narrator theme is that it leaves the audience not certain if they should care. If they don't care then why should they finish the story?
Small spoiler for you here, there is a bit of a love story going on in each tale. It may seem a little harsh but I felt that it was an unnecessary element in the modern side. It felt fake and read like something added in to check a box. History- Check. Mystery- Check. Romance-Well if I have to, Check. Not only that, but when it came to a moment of plot twist reveal, of which there were several, I was left puzzled. Character elements were added that simply led me to be confused and rather annoyed. Then when Lead Man was forced to be parted from Lead Lady, he seemed indifferent and left without much of a struggle. After being forced into this adventure over the course of several days, most of which would bond these two together, it left me feeling as though he wouldn't even add her to his Facebook (if he knew what that was.)
At the end of it all, I would recommend this book. I wouldn't buy it, I would definitely borrow it, or use my KindleUnlimited for it. Another option would be to support your local library and hit them up for books. If you enjoy Historical Mystery Fiction, please check out The Hangman's Daughter Series, because it is very good and this author deserves so much more.
Oliver Pötzsch is a German writer and filmmaker. After high school he attended the German School of Journalism in Munich from 1992 to 1997. He then worked for Radio Bavaria. In addition to his professional activities in radio and television, Pötzsch researched his family history. He is a descendant of the Kuisle, from the 16th to the 19th Century a famous dynasty of executioners in Schongau.
Freelance Editor & Reviewer