Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Guest Review: The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb (Anchor Books, 2022)
As this book begins, Ray McMillian, a young Black violinist, is about to fly to Moscow to take part in the Tchaikovsky Competition. He opens his violin case and the violin is gone, replaced by a ransom note.

After a few pages describing the frantic reaction and the beginning of police and insurance processes, we go back to Ray as a teenager in North Carolina. We see his family problems, his struggles as a minority in the very white world of classical music, and his good fortune in having a mentor who is well-connected in the music business. We accompany him as his career begins to take shape and he finds a sympathetic girlfriend, also a musician. Then there is his violin, which is almost a character in itself. In Chapter 24, the book returns to the crisis of the missing instrument.

This is a suspenseful book with a lot of plot, but what really draws the reader in is Ray himself. I am always deeply impressed when an author can make me care so much for a character who, as I know perfectly well, exists only in the imagination. (It doesn’t work with every hero.) Jarret in Horse and Damon in Demon Copperhead are prime examples of this from recent reading. They are more complex characters than Ray and the books more significant, but the feeling is the same: the reader positively aches for Ray to surmount his troubles and succeed.
Brendan Slocumb
Are some plot turns a little far-fetched? Might Ray be just slightly too good to be true? Probably. Did I care while turning the pages? Not a bit. 

Stephanie Martin

photo credit: author's website


Sam said...

This sounds interesting. I like the sound of that main character, and books with lengthy flashbacks that circle back to the beginning chapters are something that I really enjoy. I'll see if my library has a copy.

thecuecard said...

Yeah I liked this novel too; there was enough intrigue to keep it going. But I have not read his 2nd novel Symphony of Secrets, which I should. I think I had it on my summer list but did not get to it. Cheers.

TracyK said...

I had not been interested in this book up to now, but reading your review, it sounds pretty good. I will be on the lookout for a copy.