Friday, March 11, 2016

The Philomel Foundation: Review

The Philomel Foundation (1980) by James Gollin mixes the worlds of chamber music and international espionage. Alan French of the Antiqua Players is approached by The Philomel Foundation with a fabulous offer of an all-expenses-paid tour of Europe. The group will be paid additionally for several prearranged concerts and the rest of their time may be spent sight-seeing, researching, in impromptu performances, or however they see fit. Oh and one other thing--

Suppose that, in addition to your...musical responsibilities, there were certain other ways in which you could be helpful to the Foundation. Certain contacts you could make?

You know...nothing illegal. Nothing too taxing. Nothing a bunch of  pre-classical musicians can't handle. Just a little matter of smuggling a famous Russian cellist and dissident out of East Germany. No big deal. Because--naturally, musicians who can manage to play beautiful music on lutes and krummhorns, shawms and viols and harpsichords will have the quick wits, quicker reflexes, and the sangfroid to sneak the great Korbrand away from his Russian watchdogs and past the East German border guards with no problem at all.

"It's going to be like sneaking a note past your fourth-grade teacher," Flachsmann protested. "How can you keep on saying no?"

Well, the inner James Bond in Alan French can't keep saying no. And his colleagues in the Antiqua Players are all for playing the hero and helping Korbrand escape from behind the Iron Curtain. Of course, French has suspected that it won't be as easy as Flachsmann (the money man behind The Philomel Foundation) has predicted. He would be right.

This a fairly solid read. It plays espionage with a very light touch. The reader has no illusions that the musicians will ever be in real danger--despite one of their number being roughed up a bit by a goon-for-hire. The set-up may seem a bit too easy and hard to believe of a bunch of espionage amateurs, but the Antiqua Players more than make it worth your while. The group dynamics and the inside peek at the world of professional music making are quite interesting and well done. A good dose of belief suspension helps this story go down well and I definitely wouldn't mind finding the future installments (there are three more) to see what other mischief the Players can get into. ★★

This fulfills the "Musical Instrument" category on the Silver Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.

All challenges fulfilled: Vintage Mystery Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, Travel the World, European Reading Challenge, 100 Plus Challenge, Outdo Yourself, Cloak & Dagger, Charity Challenge, Triple Dog Dare, A-Z Mystery Author Challenge, My Kind of Mystery, Mad Reviewer

1 comment:

fredamans said...

Sounds very Bond-esque! That appeals to me greatly!