While apprenticing backstage at Richard Wagner’s legendary Festival Theatre in Bayreuth, Germany, C. R. Holloway happens onto a handwritten note purporting to be from King Ludwig II. If real, its allegations are so slanderous, they would further stain Wagner’s and Ludwig’s already sullied reputations, and outrage their descendents and admirers.
Reluctant to inform anyone of his discovery, Holloway hides the note inside the lining of his luggage and, on returning home to Honolulu, stows it in a safety deposit box, hoping eventually to find time to verify its genesis and authenticity. Shortly, his Waikiki postman delivers a letter in which its writer demands the found note be destroyed immediately. Written in a hand identical to the original, it is signed by someone claiming to be Ludwig, himself!
Soon, a series of revealing letters arrive from ‘Ludwig’ in which he becomes increasingly more hostile toward Holloway and proportionately less self-recriminatory. Concurrent with the arrival of these letters, Holloway’s life takes a bizarre and disquieting turn that includes his phone being tapped, frequent nightmares and surprise visitors from Germany.
All of which energizes his determination to return to Bavaria, surreptitiously investigate Ludwig’s world and prowl his castles in search of the truth about the tortured life and mysterious death of ‘The Mad King.’ While a paying guest of the Hohenlohes, a wealthy family of nobility in Munich, Holloway becomes involved with their nineteen-year-old son, Reiger, a strikingly handsome, moody, first year medical student. Their edgy relationship nearly gets the two of them killed.
In the end, Holloway’s findings are sure to anger Wagnerian purists, infuriate Bavarian bureaucrats, startle keepers of Ludwig’s flame and give tourists a new perspective while tramping through the ´Mad King´s´ Dream Castles.