The Piano Tuner

The Piano Tuner

by Daniel Mason

Overview: In 1886 a shy, middle-aged piano tuner named Edgar Drake receives an unusual commission from the British War Office: to travel to the remote jungles of northeast Burma and there repair a rare piano belonging to an eccentric army surgeon who has proven mysteriously indispensable to the imperial design. From this irresistible beginning, The Piano Tuner launches readers into a world of seductive, vibrantly rendered characters, and enmeshes them in an unbreakable spell of storytelling.

Deanna Boe (11/09/19): Recently I reviewed “The Winter Soldier” by the same author. It was an excellent book and I gave it a top score. This is the reason I wanted to go back and read his first novel, “The Piano Tuner,” only to be disappointed. It is a good book, in fact the first half held my interest and enjoyment, perhaps because I once lived in that part of the world where the main character was traveling. He is a British piano tuner who was asked to go to the country of Burma (now known as Myanmar) by the British government/military to tune a piano of a highly placed British officer who was serving in the wild jungle area of Burma. It turns out he is a specialist in tuning this certain make of piano. Just all of this seemed weird that the government would pay to send this non-military man all the way from Britain to SE Asia simply to tune a piano but they were. What was even stranger was the fact this officer could persuade the War Office to have sent him a piano in the first place!

Edgar Drake doesn’t believe he can say no to the British War Office and so he kisses his wonderful wife of many years good-bye and off he goes on this adventure. He had never been out of the country of England, not even the rest of the British Isles, so this was a big undertaking for him. The descriptions of him traveling to Burma were excellent and enjoyable to read. You were even given a clue shortly before he disembarked that all might not be well with this particular British Officer he was going to see while Edgar was playing cards with some enlisted soldiers. It was a subtle hint and that combined with how he finally made it up the mountain and to this isolated area of Burma should have been an indication to Edgar that all was not as it should be, but he was too innocent on everything to pick-up on it.

I hesitate to say more for those who might like to read this book. It received rave reviews when it was published in 2002 and many of the reviews I read thought it was wonderful. I really enjoy the author’s writing style; his descriptions are accurate and draw you into all that is happening and how Burma looked at that time. I simply wasn’t happy with the last part. To me it got a little “way-out” and not believable. I absolutely didn’t like what happened to Edgar, our innocent piano tuner.
Rating: ****-

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