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The Violin Conspiracy Bets On...

The Violin Conspiracy

March 2022

I absolutely loved THE VIOLIN CONSPIRACY by Brendan Slocumb. I have never been a fan of classical music, so reading a book about a concert artist is not something that typically would grab my attention. But I was riveted.

Ray McMillian loves playing the violin, but he’s using a school rental instrument, which is not the way one is going to get ahead in the music world. When visiting his grandmother, she suggests that he look around the attic in her house where her grandfather’s fiddle is. He treks up there, and after days of searching, he finds a green alligator case with a violin inside. Ray practices for hours on it, with his mom complaining about “that noise” and lending no support. As he studies music in school, a teacher takes him under her wing and guides him as she sees real talent in him.

Ray’s violin needs work, and in the process of it being repaired, the skilled craftsman working on it recognizes it to be a Stradivarius. Suddenly, “the fiddle that makes noise” grabs the attention of his entire family. They want to sell it and split the profits. And out of the woodwork comes the Marks family, whose land Ray’s great-great grandfather lived on as a slave --- and they lay claim to it as well. Ray wants to play, while others just see the violin as a commodity.

Weeks before Ray is to play in the international Tchaikovsky Competition, his beloved violin is stolen --- and eyes go to his family, as well as to the Marks family, as possible thieves. I am not giving anything away here --- the book opens with the theft --- and from there we go back and forth in time, learning more about Ray and seeing his talent and recognition of him grow.

Brendan also unflinchingly tackles the subject of race and what it means to a concert-level performer. As his grandmother tells him, you have to be twice as good! Ray experiences prejudice again and again, and glares back at it with talent. He drives home the fact that so few people of color are part of concert-level orchestras within the frame of his storytelling. This is not preachy; it’s enlightening.

Astonishingly, this is Brendan’s debut novel. He is a terrific storyteller; how he paced a thriller so deftly his first time out is just wonderful to experience. I cannot wait to see what he does next.

The Violin Conspiracy
by Brendan Slocumb

  • Publication Date: December 6, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN-10: 0593315421
  • ISBN-13: 9780593315422