I’ve just come back from a short break to Bayreuth in Bavaria. Bayreuth is, of course, an important pilgrimage centre for Wagner fans (of which I’m not really one), and the main focus of our visit was a performance of Die Walkuere. But there was still plenty of time for other things, including a trip to Bamberg, famed for its medieval town centre, and a mooch in the local bookshop.
There is a fashion in Germany for murder mysteries set in an identifiable locality: I’ve read Aachen and Dresden mysteries, murders which take place under the walls of King Ludwig’s fantastic castles, crimes which occur in Bavarian farming communities, and even some books which take the local pub as their starting point. So the bookshop owner wasn’t at all surprised by my request for a Bayreuth mystery, and she produced one instantly – Tod in Bayreuth, or Death in Bayreuth – and proceeded to discuss its merits with me. She then found a second book, Fuehrerbefehl, which, she said, had a more tangential connection with Bayreuth and Wagner, but she added that it was well written and researched and she thought I would enjoy it. As might be gleaned from the title, it also has a connection with Hitler and is partially set in Berlin at the end of the Second World War. So, one way and another, I feel I have plenty to read over the next couple of weeks.
But if that hadn’t been enough, I could have had recourse to the glass cabinet standing outside the Rathaus. It contained a selection of books and there was an invitation to help oneself to the contents. The only proviso was that any books borrowed should be returned after use, or, if not the original books, then suitable replacements.