Wolf on a String

Written by Benjamin Black
Review by Elicia Parkinson

This historical novel takes place at the end of 1599, during the reign of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. Christian Stern comes to Prague with plans of making his fame and fortune at Rudolf’s court, but upon his arrival he comes across a murder of what appears to be a noblewoman, which gets him involved in helping to solve the mystery. His investigation takes him through a maze of politics and intrigue that eventually leads to Rudolf’s court. As is typical in mysteries of this sort, people are not who they appear to be, and Christian Stern finds himself questioning the motives of everyone he encounters.

While Christian Stern himself is fictional, other characters depict real people in Prague’s history: Emperor Rudolf II (known for his eccentricities and interests in the occult), John Dee (astronomer, occult philosopher, and adviser to Queen Elizabeth I), and Edward Kelley (yet another occultist who often worked closely with John Dee). For those curious about Prague, its history, and its place and role in the world in the late 1500s and early 1600s, this book will be an interesting read. The mystery component, however, may appeal more to fans of that genre.