A piano tuner—sorry, make that piano technician—happens on the find of a lifetime, which may also be the price he pays for it.
“Today I don’t pay you in money,” elderly piano teacher Olga Pieczynski tells Frank Ryan after he restores her Steinway to proper pitch by removing Coco, her dead dog, from inside it. “Today I pay you in art,” she adds as she presses a copy of Songs of Springtime into his hands. And what art it is. An improbably cursory examination is enough to alert Frank that she’s actually given him the manuscript of the first three movements of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Tenth Symphony. It’s too late to ask Miss P where she got it or what she’d like Frank to do with it, since a strategically placed piano wire has already sent her following Beethoven and Coco into the great beyond. So Frank shares the manuscript with his frequent jazz partner Kaz Nakamura, owner of a bar, a noodle shop and a saxophone, who independently identifies it as Beethoven’s Tenth as well, and they decide to spring it on the world at a Beethoven birthday bash in nearby Vancouver in a few days. But Miss P’s ham-handed pupil, dog walker Stefan Litvak, has other plans for the treasure. So do ex-Sgt. Bob Brossard, a private eye, and tuna futures millionaire Fujimori-san, neither of whom wants to spend a penny more than they have to for the priceless manuscript.
Scientist Harvey (The End of the River, 2008, etc.) provides all the ingredients of a novel a lot shorter than a Beethoven symphony: one crime, one mystery, one threat to the hero’s life, one near-death situation, one twist at the end. The perfect gift for mystery fans with short attention spans.