I received an advanced review copy of this title from New Vessel Press through Edelweiss. This book was originally written and published in German and this English translation has been done by Steph Morris.
New Vessel Press will publish the English translation of this book in February of 2016, but the book was so good that I couldn’t wait that long to review it. The central figure of the book, Adrian Weynfeldt, is just what the title suggests: he is the last of his family and he is not married and has no children. Adrian’s parents had him later in life and when they died they left Adrian an extensive inheritance which includes two buildings that are prime real estate in Zurich.
Fifty-year-old Adrian lives alone on the top floor of one of his opulent buildings. His massive apartment is filled with costly art work and antique furniture. Because of his family’s wealth Adrian doesn’t have to work, but he does because he loves his occupation as an expert art historian for an auction house in Zurich. The descriptions of various artwork and the process of art auctions is a fascinating aspect of the book that captivated my attention.
Adrian is mannered to a fault. He doesn’t ask questions when he should and he is always paying for his friends’ lavish dinners and funding their attempts at careers. Every Thursday is lunch with his younger friends and Adrian always excuses himself towards the end of the meal and quietly pays the very expensive bill. Adrian is kind, polite and unassuming and it as very sad to see his so-called friends take advantage of his good nature.
This book is one of those page turners that grabs you right from the first scene. Adrian is sitting at one of his favorite bars in Zurich when in walks an interesting woman, in her mid-thirties who basically invites herself up to Adrian’s apartment. He realizes that she is rather intoxicated, so in true Adrian fashion, he feels it would be wrong to sleep with her. In the middle of the night, Adrian wakes up to find this woman, whose name he figures out is Lorena, standing on his balustrade and ready to jump to her death. After he talks her off the ledge, Adrian finds that he can’t stop thinking about Lorena even though he doesn’t know very much about her.
It turns out that Lorena has tried to barely squeak out a living by modeling for small companies and catalogues. She has had a tough life and her latest relationship ended disastrously when she found out her boyfriend had a wife and three children. Lorena teams up with a small-time con artist named Pedroni and together they decide to try and swindle Adrian out of some of his money. But Lorena seems to have fallen for Adrian, more so than she is willing to admit to herself, and we are left wondering if she can really cheat him after all.
Adrian and Lorena also become involved in an attempted art forgery and a great part of the suspense of the book lies in wondering whether or not Adrian’s keen eye for art will be able to detect the forgery and stop the sale of this piece before it ruins his career. But Lorena’s influence has most definitely thrown some chaos into his otherwise ordered and neat life. The circumstances surrounding the forged art, the sexual tension between Adrian and Lorena and the fascinating character of Adrian himself kept me wondering what was going to happen and wanting more.
I highly recommend that everyone put this on their “to read” pile for 2016. There are just so many interesting aspects to this story-from the strong characters to the intricate descriptions of art to a mystery of an art fraud. New Vessel Press has quickly become one of my favorite independent presses and with THE LAST WEYNFELDT they have chosen another fantastic book to bring us in translation.