Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:
New Year's Day, 2000. Hunters on their way home through a forest in the Jura stumble upon a half-circle of dead bodies lying in the freshly fallen snow. A nearby holiday chalet contains the debris of a seemingly ordinary Christmas- champagne, decorations, presents for the dead children. The hunters are questioned and sent away. As they descend the mountain, a large dark car rises past them in the gloom. The woman within barely acknowledges their presence.<br> The Judge, Dominique Carpentier, is in charge of the investigation. Commissaire Andre Schweigen is waiting for her. They have encountered this suicide sect before. In the chalet they find a strange leather-bound book, written in mysterious code, containing maps of the stars. The book of The Faith leads them to the Composer, Friedrich Grosz, who is connected to every one of the dead. Surely he must be implicated in The Faith? And so the pursuit begins. Carpentier, Schweigen and the Judge's idiosyncratic assistant Gaelle are drawn into a world of complex family ties, ancient cosmic beliefs and seductive, disturbing music. Carpentier, known as the sect hunter, prides herself on her ability to expose frauds and charlatans. She also likes to win. Has she met her match in the Composer?
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Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Tough and imperturbable, the Judge-Dominique Carpentier-is an expert on sects. And so when 16 people, including seven children, are found dead on New Year's Day, laid out in neat configurations in the snow, Commissaire Andre Schweigen calls for her help. Among the dead is Madame Laval, widowed by a similar event five years previously, and a leather-bound book written in no known language found at the chalet she had rented nearby leads the Judge on an investigation of the Faith. It also leads her to the much-revered Composer, a lion of a man whose connection with the Faith she teases out even as they begin a tentative courtship-much to the chagrin of the Commissaire, who's in love with the Judge himself. What is the Judge to make of the Faith's conviction that a full knowledge of life means embracing death? Verdict Duncker, whose works include the award-winning Hallucinating Foucault, has written a work that's at once thriller, character study, and exploration of how we grapple with our understanding of life's limits. It's a smooth, gripping, surprising read that will entertain fans of suspense and literary fiction alike.-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
A mass suicide (or "Departure") of a secret cult's adherents discovered in a French forest on New Year's Day, laid out in a fan shape in the snow, at the start of this haunting novel from British author Duncker (Hallucinating Foucault), resembles a larger Departure years earlier, in Switzerland. Looking into both cases are Dominique Carpentiera, a "judge," or investigator, in the French court system, and Andre Schweigen, a commissaire, or police officer with judicial powers. Complicating matters is the nearly obsessive love that Andre holds for the beautiful and idiosyncratic Dominique. Delving into the history of the cult, Dominique travels extensively, including back to her own roots among the vineyards of France. Along the way she comes to realize that at the center of her search is an ancient book full of strange code and a brilliant German composer named Friedrich Grosz. Though the leisurely plot gets progressively flakier and the personal dynamics a bit tiresome, the prose remains vibrant. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
When nine members of the Faith, a mysterious religious cult, are found dead in a French forest, Dominique Carpentier, the sect-hunting judge, is called to investigate. Assisted by police commissaire André Schweigen, her secret lover, she begins an investigation that will lead her to a tangled relationship with the world-famous conductor and composer Friedrich Grosz, who is mysteriously involved with the Faith and its members. Nominally a mystery, British writer Duncker's fifth novel is, indeed, enigmatic, but it's more interested in metaphysics, obscure religions, and larger-than-life characters than in a page-turning plot. Elements of sexual ambiguity (similarly present in some of Duncker's earlier novels) lend an ominous air to the judge's sometimes disturbing findings. Though the author's characters never quite come to life, being more tics and mannerisms than people, there is enough of the exotic to them and to their circumstances to hold the reader's attention.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2010 Booklist