The tale of the murder of von Bredow and his daughter is a complicated one. Don’t expect a neat ending to this story—or any clear answers. Do expect some well-drawn characters and an interesting insight into the world of high-end violins.

Showmanship came easily to von Bredow. A natural raconteur, he could mesmerize strangers with his verve, comic voices and seemingly endless collection of esoteric facts. “He was one of the most authentic people I’ve ever met,” says Martin Schleske, a luthier who became one of von Bredow’s friends. “He didn’t care about any conventions. They were just not important for him.”