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Freiberg 1763: the allied armies of Empress Maria Theresa meet the Prussian advance. During the first skirmish, a young officer falls. The dying man begs a young ensign to deliver a letter to his father, but Ensign Franz von Langsdorff, subsequently severely wounded himself, returns home a cripple, unable to honor this promise or support his impoverished family. In her disappointment, his widowed mother inflicts her ill temper on his sister Augusta, who struggles to hold the household together.

Eventually, the kind-hearted elderly lawyer Stiebel helps the wounded Franz to heal from his physical and psychological wounds, but by then someone is trying to kill for the letter. Together, Franz and Stiebel decide the letter must be delivered quickly at all cost.

Franz and his mentor travel to Mannheim (pursued by Franz’s mother and sister) where the killer waits. The letter holds a dangerous secret concerning a plot against the monarch. Before Franz can hand it over, the plotters interfere, and the assassin sets a trap for Franz and his sister.

This coming-of-age novel contains real historical characters and events and portrays eighteenth century life as a dark comedy of manners where a young man confronts his deepest fears and a young woman finds unexpected love.

About this Book:

I wrote this novel as a labor of love. During the many years of work with Japanese history for my historical mysteries, I rarely stopped thinking about my own past and that of my birth country, Germany.

But it was not until 2007 that I finally turned to a history and culture which had been part of my upbringing and which I loved. Perhaps because I was a child of the twentieth century where I had found little to admire in the Germany I grew up in, I was drawn to its earlier history.

I grew up in Bavaria near the Alps and many of the beautiful baroque and rococo churches and palaces that survived from the eighteenth century. I read German fiction and poetry and loved the music of Mozart and Bach. History became my favorite subject in school, and my minor at the university. The German past was rich, and the land was beautiful despite its recent history.

And so this novel came to be set in eighteenth century Germany, specifically in Lindau on Lake Constance and Mannheim on the Main River. From the start, it was to be very different from my Akitada mysteries. As the eighteenth century was the time of many of the great minds of the Enlightenment and of the splendor of kings and great men who encouraged or produced superb works of architecture, painting, sculpture, music, and literature, I would let my characters, some real and some fictional, reveal both the glory and the excesses of their time.

When the book was done, I was proud of it and sent it to my agent. In many ways, it was the best thing I’d ever written. THE LEFT-HANDED GOD was a thriller, but it was a literary one, meaning it tried to be more than a mere page turner. It was also a true novel, more about character and theme than about plot. Alas, my agent decided it was a romance and submitted it to the main romance publishers, who all—quite understandably—rejected it. Horrified, I withdrew the novel.

Over the years, I held on to this novel, perhaps thinking that its day would come with another publishing house, but this hope turned out to be vain and foolish in the current publishing climate. As one of the romance editors said in her rejection letter, “Nobody is interested in historical novels set in Germany.”

So here it is, self-published at last. May it find its way into the hearts of readers in spite of all the objections.

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