This is the debut novel by a young black classical musician, a violinist actually, and it’s partlyinspired by some of his own life experiences. The major theme is racism but it’s a good novel – compelling and well written.
The Violin Conspiracy
By Brendan Slocumb
Read by author
Rating: 8 / 21st century fiction
Rayquan McMillian of Charlotte SC is getting ready for a competition in Moscow when his violin, a Stradivarius given to him by his grandmother, is stolen from his hotel room. An investigation follows, but the narrative goes to the backstory for how Brendan got to this place.
Rayquan is Black and poor and has had a difficult childhood which doesn’t get any easier when he starts playing a school-owned violin. Although he is terrifically talented, his single mother with 3 younger children is far more supportive of him getting a job at a fast food place, than she is of his playing classical violin. And racism is everywhere.
But he has a few supporters like Professor Stevens from Markham University who spots him at an early competition and helps develop his talents guiding him in the right directions. It’s with Stevens that Ray discovers the violin his grandmother gave him is a Stradivarius. That’s when he finds out that a whole lot of the world is as money-grubbing as they are racist.
I really enjoyed the book. It’s probably “young adult” or something because Rayquan is a young adult growing into manhood and he is such a good and “likable” character. This is also a coming-of-age story.
The other major characters each have distinct personalities and I cared about most of them. It was such a fun read, but not without some very painful parts because explicit racism is directly involved and that made me cringe although sad to say, that’s the part that’s most real, based on true events. There were a few scenes which were very tense – scary.