Mystery Author Gerald Elias is Set to Release Political Thriller ‘The Beethoven Sequence’


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By Gabrielle Klinge, Arts Writer


Local author, Gerald Elias, is gearing up to release his first political thriller titled “The Beethoven Sequence.” Elias is a well-known writer in Salt Lake City and has authored multiple mystery novels — including the Daniel Jacobus series. Elias’s new book will be released by Level Best Books on September 8.


The story of “The Beethoven Sequence” centers on a rural Colorado machine shop mechanic, Layton Stolz, who is obsessed with Beethoven’s music and its message of freedom for mankind. Building a cult-like empire of followers by the time he is elected president, his message has now metastasized into a cancerous ideology, and his political group is bent upon eliminating his opponents. One of his opponents is Ballard Whitmore, a graduate of Brigham Young University, who was imprisoned on false sexual misconduct charges. Whitmore and female reporter Sandy Duckworthy — the only person who believes his story — risk their lives in their quest for his exoneration and the downfall of President Layton Stolz.

The plot of this novel has a lot to do with Elias’s relationship with the classical music industry. Throughout the years, Gerald Elias has definitely made a notable contribution to the arts community in Utah and others across the country. Having attended the Boston University Tanglewood Institution and graduating from Yale with a Bachelor of Arts, Elias started off his music career strong. Elias has been a part of many classical music groups, including the Boston Symphony, and he was the Associate Concertmaster of the Utah Symphony. He has also brought his passion and knowledge for music to other countries, such as Australia and Japan. 


Elias’s experience in the music industry has been a prominent source of inspiration for his novels, especially this new one. Elias noted that the Suzuki Method — a popular violin-teaching approach — played a major role in the development of his novel. “So I had this ‘what if’ idea, the Suzuki Method on steroids. What if a new music training method, which in the book I call ‘The Beethoven Sequence,’ were to become so popular that its leader was worshipped like a cult figure, and then the organization, with its hundreds of local chapters and loyal following, was transformed into an intimidating political machine?” Elias said.

The main character of “The Beethoven Sequence” also reflects Elias’s love for classical music. “The central character, Layton Stolz, a humble machine shop mechanic in a small Colorado town, has an obsession with Beethoven. Not only for the music, which he loves, but for Beethoven’s revolutionary notion of music as a vehicle to promote human freedom and brotherhood,” Elias said. “Sadly, as Stolz becomes progressively mentally unstable, even as he is swept into the presidency of the United States, Beethoven’s triumphant message of liberty becomes distorted into something evil and repressive.”

Elias also explained one of the hardest aspects of writing this novel. “Another challenge was to convincingly show the gradual, horrifying mental dissolution of the book’s central figure, Layton Stolz, who started out as a man with good intentions,” he said. “But without realizing it, as his power increased and his sanity decreased, morphed into the opposite of the man whose principles of liberty were so dear to his heart.”

Message to Readers

The fear that comes with the unforeseeable mental transformation of those in power may be relatable for Elias’s readers, especially considering the current political climate in the United States. “I started working on ‘The Beethoven Sequence’ quite a few years ago. It started out as a short story and over the course of time gradually blossomed into a full-fledged thriller,” Elias said. “I actually put it on the shelf for a while because I thought it might be a little too far out, but after almost four years of the Trump administration, we’ve learned that anything can happen. Anything is possible.”

Despite the daunting political messages in this novel, Elias described a hopeful call-to-action that he wants his readers to walk away with. “The real hero of ‘The Beethoven Sequence’ is small town newspaper reporter Sandy Duckworthy. She knows exactly who she is — a liberated woman who’s tough, tenacious, funny, sexy and a damn good reporter,” Elias said. “I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s Sandy who conveys the message of the book — none of us should accept anything less than the truth, even if finding it requires standing up to the most formidable power imaginable.”

Additional information about the upcoming release of “The Beethoven Sequence” can be found on Elias’ website.


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