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Maestro

By John Gardner

America’s greatest living orchestra conductor, Louis Passau, is ninety.

Still sound in mind and body, he prepares to commemorate this milestone at a concert at New York’s Lincoln Center. But scandal threatens to spoil Passau’s celebration when he is accused of having spied for Hitler and of aiding clandestine KGB operations in the United States during the Cold War.

Western intelligence services have come to an arrangement with the Maestro: he may conduct the concert, but he is to be interrogated immediately afterward by SIS agent Herbie Kruger. When the concert ends, an attempt is made on Passau’s life and Herbie takes the Maestro into hiding.

There Kruger listens to the extraordinary confession of this fatally flawed man-brilliant on the podium, charming in public, foul-mouthed and streetwise in private-a man whose deceits, successes and often tragic loves are as improbable as they are enthralling. It becomes more and more difficult to separate truth from fiction, it also becomes nearly impossible to determine who the Maestro actually is-the musician, Passau, or his interrogator, Kruger.

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