It’s easy to call The Ludwig Conspiracy a Da Vinci Code clone, but that’s doing this fun thriller a disservice. Yes, the book follows a similar formula, and yes it’s more about the puzzle than the characters. Neither one of these two issues kept me from enjoying the heck out of it.
The fate of Bavaria’s mad king has fascinated me since I first heard about it. Add to that the special place I have in my heart for Bavaria–my wife and I spent our first anniversary in Europe, visiting, among other places, this book’s locales–and you have a recipe for a good review.
Author Oliver Potzsch does a decent job switching back and forth between the past and the present. He cleverly uses an old diary as the transportation device that takes the reader back to Ludwig’s last days. While these flashback scenes lacked the tone and tension of the present day ones, I found them more fascinating.
Potzsch’s Ludwig is a tortured and complicated man and easily the book’s strongest character. His fate plays out with hints of Christ’s walk to crucifixion, but it’s never preachy or heavy handed.
The present-day story line is, as I said earlier, a bit cookie cutter. The characters exist to unravel the mystery not to engage the reader. They’re likable enough, just not memorable. I suppose ‘serviceable’ is the best description. As to the plot itself–well it’s not without its flaws. The mysteries are easy enough to discover, the set ups and escapes predictable. It’s a testament to the story that I didn’t care. Despite its flaws, the book pulled me in. I was engrossed, start to finish. If you’re looking for a Da Vinci Code light, this book’s for you.