The Elgar Society Journal

... Boswell, unlike [some] other novelists, doesn't tamper with known events...
... Boswell's techniques include switching viewpoints (sometimes of the same events), and entertaining features such as pastiche newspaper articles and e-mail spam...
... The central character... is autistic, and mute; she is also a musical 'savant', a self-taught pianist with a prodigious musical memory… [The] plot takes off when she seems to be playing a new, improved version of Elgar's Third Symphony. Her development towards interaction with others through music is the most heartening strain in a complex novel which also allows at least one bit of love to run in a true course...
... once well launched into reading, I didn't find it easy to put down.

Prof Julian Rushton

... the story becomes a marvel of delineation, with so many important characters making up the puzzle that it is remarkable how Boswell develops them all so well. ...
... The story even takes on, with quite proper glee, the one mystery Elgar biographers treat like a mine field – whether or not Elgar was loyal to his 9-years-senior wife. The whole thing lays out like a tapestry and comes to a conclusion with the precise timing of a fine weave.  ... That it never ... leaves the reader confused is a triumph of storytelling. ...
... The Elgar Enigmas is in some ways a descendent of the best of Wilkie Collins's breadth of plotting and Agatha Christie's sharp turns. Its nicely flowing prose is tighter and less sprawling than Collins, more literate than Christie... The result is a terrific read for anyone interested in music and a must for Elgarians.

Roger Hecht

Amazon reviews

This is a really intriguing novel that kept me wanting to read... There are many, many strands to this masterpiece, which is entertaining, informative about Elgar himself, and humourous too...

... a stunningly complex plot that repeatedly defeats expectations. [Boswell's] large cast of characters are lively, usually sympathetic, and intriguing. This is a feast for anyone from a music lover to an electronic whiz to anyone bemused by the occult, but especially for anyone interested in knowing more about a great composer, about autism and about savants.

I read the author's Seven Symphonies some time ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, but to my mind this book is even more special... it is a very accessible story and once you begin it is hard to put it down.
The characters are convincing, and even if you do not give credence to the supernatural elements, the way the story works out is both exciting and credible.
Alice, the 13-year-old musical savant, comes across as a real living character.

This delightful and entertaining novel demonstrates Simon Boswell's skills as an author of engrossing stories. The unusual heroine ... is an autistic musical savant who authentically plays on the piano any piece she has heard...
One of the leading characters is a stuffy British symphony conductor who provides the occult and musical themes that both inform and delight. The mystery unfolds at a rapid pace ... to provide an entertaining and believable suspenseful plot which ends with all the loose ends connected and a completely satisfying denouement. This novel ... makes us look forward with anticipation to [Boswell's] next novel...

The Elgar Enigmas is a highly sophisticated romp through the romantic interests and musical masterpieces of Sir Edward Elgar, not exactly a household name in the U.S. but he is the composer of "Pomp and Circumstance," the traditional triumphant march played at every person's graduation ceremony in America. Many surreal happenings occur, ranging from cell phones that "talk" while turned off, to musical masterpieces that seemingly compose themselves in the style of Elgar. Boswell's depictions of parts of Elgar's life and musical accomplishments are based on extensive research and the composer truly comes to life as he leaps off the pages of this book. Even those who don't believe in the supernatural will enjoy the very involved interplay between past and present, real and surreal, music and life. The ending is a masterpiece of connecting the dots and tying up all the loose ends.

Those who could not put down Boswell's first novel, THE SEVEN SYMPHONIES, are in for an equally convoluted, unpredictable plot in his second novel, this one without violence and with an even more engrossing mystery... I was delighted to learn how intriguing Elgar was -- a man ahead of his age, who adored tricks and puzzles... In the pleasant English countryside [Boswell] lets us meet a young autistic savant. At her piano, without speaking a word, she changes many entangled lives and challenges everyone's pre-conceptions, especially the reader's.

The full versions may be found at &


Dekkariseura: Ruumiin kultuuri 2/2009
(The Finnish Whodunnit Society Magazine)

... Tietopaketit säveltäjän elämästä ja tuotannosta istuvat kokonaisuuteen hyvin, samoin kiintoisat savantismin kuvaukset tai vaikkapa taideteoreettiset pohdiskelut aidoista teoksista ja väärennöksistä.
Kaiken kaikkiaan tuloksena on omaperäinen, sympaattinen romaani.



(Finland's national Swedish-language newspaper)

The Elgar Enigmas är en faktaspäckad text med många berättarnivåer. Boken är en härlig blandning av klassisk mysterielösning, lätt övernaturliga element och rent anakronisktiska upptåg som epostmeddelanden mellan Elgar och hans bekanta under 1800-talets slutskede...
Förutom att bjuda på spänning och drama lyckas The Elgar Enigmas också peka på människans ständiga önskan att tro på det otroliga och hoppas på underverk. För att inte nämna människans formåga att ljuga och bedraga...

More reviews anticipated soon…

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