First of all I have to thank Jackie Law, who reviewed this novel in her blog Neverimitate
Generally when I read a book in translation, I look for evidence of the country’s culture. I know that a writer can choose any topic they want but, if I’ve never been to a country, I do like to read about the traditions. In this case, The Music Teacher is by the Lithuanian author, Renata Serelyte (translated by Marija Marcinkute) and the book takes place in Lithuania as well ( bonus points!)
The book is a meta mystery, that is there are elements of the crime genre in the book but Serelyte takes things further. This is a book that deals with the psyche, of hidden consciousness, feminism and Lithuanian politics.
The main protagonist is an investigator who discovers a dead teenager in the bath. As she is carrying out her investigation, she starts to recall past crimes which were farcical and yet somewhat connected with this murder.
Unfortunately this investigator also had an upsetting childhood where she had an affair with her music teacher, who later works in the city council and wants to close the investigation. The narrator in panic starts to dream, retreating into childhood elements. At this point past, present and future are jumbled up but it’s not difficult to follow the different threads.
Ultimately the mystery is ‘solved’ but that’s not Serelyte’s point. Really the book is about Lithuania’s political system, which is rotten. A place rife with corruption and backhanded dealings. Despite the torrid message, Serelyte fuses everything with humor, there were some laugh out loud moments. This narrator comments on everything and all her barbs are full of sarcasm but are funny (the atavistic lecture is just one line but it’s brilliant) It is this aspect of the novel that I appreciated as I assume this sort of humor is part of Lithuanian culture.
If you want a crime/not crime novel then here’s the place to look. The Music Teacher is a crime novel with a difference.
My copy was kindly given to me by Noir Press, in exchange for an honest review.