Mozart's Last Aria is a historical fiction novel by Matt Rees. It was published in November 2011.
The story follows Nannerl Mozart, sister of Wolfgang, as she tries to uncover the circumstances behind her famous brother's death in 1791 at the age of 35. In a nutshell, while Mozart's death was officially deemed to be caused by illness, some in Vienna suspect foul play. Nannerl heads to Vienna to see Constanze, her widowed sister-in-law, and to try to figure things out for herself.
There's a whole lot of conjecture in this book, which is obviously not meant to be taken as a historical account. The prologue and epilogue are written from the perspective of Mozart's son, to whom Nannerl shows her diary of her time in Vienna in her old age. The novel itself consists of Nannerl's diary outlining what happened.
As Nannerl digs for the truth in Vienna, elements of the genre unfold: the suspicious people who tell the protagonist not to dig, the helpful sorts who know too much and themselves end up dead. Mozart's real-life connection to the freemasons also play a large role in the novel.
The novel got decent reviews; user reviews on sites such as Goodreads and Google Books tend to average rankings of about 3/5. Common complaints zero in on the novel's speculatative nature and the question of whether Nannerl Mozart is at all believable as a de facto detective. Fans praise Rees's ability to paint a picture of 18th century Vienna.
My biggest problem with the novel is that it presents itself as a sequel to Amadeus, the highly fictionalized account of Mozart's life, and then proceeds to suggest that Nannerl hooked up with Baron von Swieten, presenting him as a much younger man than he would have been either in real life or in Amadeus. Apart from that, it's not a bad mystery novel.
I also liked that Rees provided a section at the back explaining musical terms and providing information about some of the Mozart works he references throughout the book. I'm big into classical music so I was able to follow along, but the appendix could be handy for anyone who isn't.
Rees has noted that he'd like to see Julia Roberts or Juliette Binoche as Nannerl in a film version.
Mozart's Last Aria: Matt Rees
Mozart's Last Aria by Matt Rees - Goodreads