Picks and Pans Review: Past Lives That Won't Let Go

UPDATED 11/10/2008 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 11/10/2008 at 01:00 AM EST

by M.J. Rose |

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Jeremy Logan, a Vienna-based antiquities dealer, specializes in recovering hidden or stolen Judaica—he's the "Jewish Indiana Jones." But when he comes across an 18th-century box linked to Beethoven, the most startling aspect is its familiarity: He's seen the box's intricate, carved motifs drawn repeatedly by his American daughter Meer as she tried to exorcise terrible images that haunted her throughout childhood. Though Meer, now 31, has never shared Jeremy's belief in reincarnation, she can't resist flying to Vienna and is at once caught up in a deadly competition over the box, which holds secrets about a lost flute whose music reputedly helps people recall their past lives.

This companion to The Reincarnationist, Rose's '07 bestseller, has a sprawling cast, as the narrative focus shifts among a grieving Israeli journalist, international security experts, FBI agents, Austrian police, various thieves and terrorists, even the principal oboist for the Vienna Philharmonic. The novel nearly collapses from the strain of its many subplots, but Rose raises the stakes for her ensemble until events come to an excruciatingly tense crescendo at a glittering performance of Beethoven's Eroica. Exhausting, but entertaining, too.

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