The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

An unflinching look at racism in the classical music world. Ray is a young Black violinist who is determined to compete at an international classical music competition. But his violin has been stolen just months before the event. This is no ordinary violin. It’s a family heirloom passed down from his great great grandfather. It also happens to be a Stradivarius, and insured for $10 million. 

Racism is at the forefront of this novel. Ray faces so much abuse and mistreatment in the classical music world. Yet he pushes on, continues toward his dream of being a classical violinist, a performer, but with little support. He has the encouragement and friendship of his music professor but his family wants only money from him. 

While it’s called a thriller/mystery, a lot of the book is Ray’s coming of age story. The mystery and coming of age parts don’t quite go together and instead feels like I’m reading two different books. 

Unfortunately, I found that the “bad” characters were very one-dimensional. Ray has two younger siblings but there’s no interaction among them, and they seem to be used to as a tool to show his mother’s dislike for Ray and little else. His mother treats him horrendously but we’re never told why. And that constantly bugged me, his relationship with his mother who seems to despise him so, but for what reason? Also, while his grandmother Nora seems so loving towards Ray, why does she allow her daughter to treat him that way? Ray could also be better developed. All the reader knows is that he’s passionate about music but other than that, he feels like a snow plow pushing a path towards the end of the story. 

An interesting premise and a promising start. This book opened my eyes to racism in the classical music world. But an unbalanced story, a ho-hum mystery, and flat characters resulted in a disappointing read.

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