The Secret Crown

Written by Chris Kuzneski
Review by Ann Oughton

King Ludwig II of Bavaria was a unique ruler and a solitary figure, choosing to live by night and shun society. Obsessed with the music of Wagner, he spent fortunes on building castles, each one more splendid than the last, sumptuously furnished and decorated with scenes from his favourite composer’s operas. In 1886, fearing that the king’s excesses were leading to bankruptcy, the government had Ludwig declared insane and then removed from power. Shortly afterwards, Ludwig’s body was discovered in a lake together with that of his doctor. Ludwig did not drown, and the mystery of his death remains to the present day.

In present-day Germany, a chance discovery of a secret bunker containing crates of gold bars and the promise of further treasure leads to Jonathon Payne and David Jones being called in to assist in the search. Payne and Jones are former leaders of Marines, Army, Navy, Intelligence, Air Force and Coast Guard or MANIACS, the best of the best, and are ready for action. On investigation, the pair discovers more crates stuffed with documents bearing a crest of a black swan – the personal insignia of Ludwig II.

The duo sets out on a quest that leads them to the heart of Ludwig’s secret world, facing death at every turn as rival fortune seekers join the hunt. This is not a true historical novel. The story of King Ludwig and his passion for Wagner and spending money is a ploy to give two of Kuzneski’s characters another airing. Nevertheless it is a good story if action-packed gun-play is your bag.