Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

About the Book:

Growing up Black in rural North Carolina, Ray McMillian’s life is already mapped out. If he’s lucky, he’ll get a job at the hospital cafeteria. If he’s extra lucky, he’ll earn more than minimum wage. But Ray has a gift and a dream—he’s determined to become a world-class professional violinist, and nothing will stand in his way. Not his mother, who wants him to stop making such a racket; not the fact that he can’t afford a violin suitable to his talents; not even the racism inherent in the world of classical music. 

When he discovers that his great-great-grandfather’s beat-up old fiddle is actually a priceless Stradivarius, all his dreams suddenly seem within reach. Together, Ray and his violin take the world by storm. But on the eve of the renowned and cutthroat Tchaikovsky Competition—the Olympics of classical music—the violin is stolen, a ransom note for five million dollars left in its place. Ray will have to piece together the clues to recover his treasured Strad … before it’s too late.

With the descendants of the man who once enslaved Ray’s great-great-grandfather asserting that the instrument is rightfully theirs, and with his family staking their own claim, Ray doesn’t know who he can trust—or whether he will ever see his beloved violin again.

My Review:

This is a good novel to read this month, one that emphasizes Black history. It has so much to say about music being for everyone, not just the elite. It is a language that transcends race and financial status. It is a passion that speaks to people across continents and is not reserved for a select few.

Ray is a Black musician and this novel highlights the difficulties he experienced. The author says he writes from his own history. Ray aptly portrays the sheer determination needed to be recognized as a success in his field. His character is developed well and we really have a clear picture of his passion for music and the love for his wonderful violin. The back story of the violin is a gruesome slave situation yet one we need to be aware of.

I felt the mystery of the stolen violin was not the strongest aspect of the plot. I was not at all surprised at the resolution. I did appreciate learning much about musical instruments and many pieces of music. But the best part was being immersed in the world of a Black musician with passion and determination. What an eye opening novel for this reader.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author:

Brendan Nicholaus Slocumb was raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and holds a degree in music education (with concentrations in violin and viola) from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. For more than twenty years he has been a public and private school music educator and has performed with orchestras throughout Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. He is currently working on his second novel. Photo © Glenn Fry.

Anchor, 352 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review. The book and author descriptions from the publisher.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

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