The Secrets of the Chess Machine by Robert Lohr

The Secrets of the Chess Machine

Robert Lohr

A revolutionary automaton called The Turk, took the Hapsburg court by storm in the late 1700s. Could it play chess, or was it an elaborate hoax? Lust, murder and intrigue follow its progress around European cities, resulting in tragedy for its creators. Based on a true story, the historical setting provides colour and detail but with a light touch. Very unusual. Very readable.

Extract

Tibor approached the automaton with care, as if approaching a corpse, and just as one might draw back a winding-sheet, Tibor lifted the linen.
The sight made him shudder. The chess player sitting on a stool behind the cabinet with his legs crossed - or perhaps her legs, for the sex of this artificial human being could not yet be determined - was no more than a mutilated skeleton. Its breast and back were open, revealing not ribs and muscles but battens and cables; its left arm ended just above the wrist, as if someone had chopped its hand off, and three cables stuck out of the stump. Most horrible of all, however, was the chess player's face, or rather its head, because there was no face at all.

Parallels
  • The Red Necklace by Sally Gardener
  • Vienna by Eva Menasse
  • The Musician's Daughter by Susanne Dunlap

Books with similar mood

Chasing the King of Hearts

Hanna Krall

The Pirate

Christopher Wallace

An Unfinished Business

Boualem Sansal

The Rules of Perspective

Adam Thorpe

Horses of God

Mahi Binebine

Scream If You Want to Go Faster

Russ Litten

Truth

Peter Temple

Chang and Eng

Darin Strauss

My Name is Light

Elsa Osorio

The Mattress House

Paulus Hochgatterer

The Dead Beat

Cody James

Exit A

Anthony Swofford

The Octopus Hunter

Grant Stewart

Night Visits

Ron Butlin

Show Me The Sky

Nicholas Hogg

Love is Strange

Joseph Connolly

The Secret

Eva Hoffman

The Lost Daughter of Happpiness

Geling Yan

Godsend

John Wray

Heaven Forbid

Christopher Hope

The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea

Bandi .

Six Stories

Matt Wesolowski

A Cup of Rage

Raduan Nassar

Almost Like Spring

Alex Capus

Dream of Ding Village

Yan Lianke

The Falafel King is Dead

Sara Shilo

The Septembers of Shiraz

Dalia Sofer

The Last Girl

Stephan Collishaw

Untied Kingdom

James Lovegrove

Waiting for an Angel

Helon Habila

The Eros Hunter

Russell Celyn Jones

The Finest Type of English Womanhood

Rachel Heath

The Only Glow of the Day

Martin Malone

A Girl Returned

Donatella Di Pietrantonio

Just Another Jihadi Jane

Tabish Khair

Burial Rites

Hannah Kent

How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone

Sasa Stanisic

Even the Dogs

Jon McGregor

The Bad News Bible

Anna Blundy

The Illusionist

Dinitia Smith

Football Crazy

Greg Williams

Inland

Téa Obreht

In Praise of Hatred

Khaled Khalifa

The Language of Flowers

Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Hate: A Romance

Tristan Garcia

Wrong as Two Left Feet

Teddy Hayes

Cloudsplitter

Russell Banks

Lucifer

Michael Cordy

Web of Secrets

Denise Harris