Ask a Bookseller: ‘The Violin Conspiracy’

Ask a Bookseller Podcast
Ask a Bookseller

Aaron Rishel of Friendly City Books in Columbus, Miss., is a music lover, so when a fellow bookseller recommended a literary thriller and mystery that featured one of the world's most prized violins, he was all in. That novel is “The Violin Conspiracy” by Brendan Slocumb.

The book cover of "The Violin Conspiracy" by Brendan Slocumb
"The Violin Conspiracy" by Brendan Slocumb.
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Young Ray McMillan is a violin prodigy growing up in rural North Carolina, and he’s determined to play professionally, despite his mother’s disapproval.

He plays on a family heirloom, a beat-up fiddle that his great-great grandfather, who had been enslaved, received after gaining his freedom.

When the violin is revealed to be a Stradivarius, both instrument and its young Black owner rise to fame.

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Shortly before Ray is to play with at the renowned International Tchaikovsky Competition, his Stradivarius is stolen, and he’s left with a ransom note for $5 million.

Ray is determined to get his beloved violin back and — equally as difficult — prove his worth as a musician in his own right.

The author himself is a violinist. Listen to his conversation with NPR about classical music, writing and race, here.

Rishel said you don’t have to be a musician to enjoy this book, though there’s added pleasure if you do. He also recommends Slocumb’s second musical page-turner, “Symphony of Secrets.”