BOOK STEW REVIEW: ‘The Violin Conspiracy’ by Brendan Slocumb

Below is the latest Book Stew Review from Eileen MacDougall, host of the long-running Book Stew, a video and podcast devoted to writing in all forms, authors, playwrights, and even a cat who survived a tornado and wrote a book about it.

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

This is a very suspenseful mashup of a thriller and an inside glimpse into the world of classical music through the eyes of a real life Black violinist/author.

We meet Ray in his adolescence, ill-treated by his family, with the exception of the dear grandma, who gives Ray an old, decrepit violin owned by his Pop Pop, Leon Marks, his enslaved ancestor.

With the help of Janice, a truly supportive teacher and mentor, Ray begins to climb up the ranks of professional violinists, all the while suffering from racist treatment and attitudes in his native North Carolina. He is shocked when the shabby, rosin-coated violin is revealed to be a ten million dollar Stradivarius brought from Italy by a slaveholding family and given to his PopPop by his enslaver.

When the violin is stolen, Ray’s greedy relatives (his mother is an awful, appalling, cruel woman) and the relatives of the slaveholder Thomas Marks all try and claim ownership of the violin.

While facing the possible loss of his precious violin, Ray is also preparing for the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition, a first for a Black American musician.

The descriptions of the musical pieces and the skills and sensitivity required to reach the pinnacle make this multi-faceted first novel a joy to read.

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