A Daniel Jacobus Mystery by Gerald Elias
Review: Gerald Elias introduces Daniel Jacobus, an old, blind, cantankerous, crabby, chain-smoking violin teacher who takes on new students only to hope they leave him because of his argumentative and cranky disposition, but also a suspected killer, in Devil's Trill.
In the late 1700s, Antonio Stradivars produced a three-quarter sized violin for a diminutive, self-taught, brilliant musician. Called the "Piccolino", this most rare violin is now owned by the Grimsley family, founders of the prestigious Musical Arts Program (MAP) in New York City. Every 13 years, the Grimsley International Violin Competition is held, attracting the most talented young musicians from around the world. The winner is granted the honor of playing the Piccolino, on stage, with full orchestra. But then the violin is stolen. Daniel Jacobus, once a competitor himself, is not sympathetic. He has made it known over the years that he believes the MAP has become a den of corrruption and greed. He's known to have made the violin, a symbol of the competition, a target of his wrath. He's initially a suspect, but his old friend, Nathaniel Williams, who's company insured the violin, doesn't believe he did it. But who would steal it? It's unique and couldn't be sold without alerting someone. But then another violin teacher, Victoria Jablonski, is found brutally murdered. Daniel is suspected of this crime as well. Can Daniel discover who stole the Piccolino and committed a murder, the reasons why? And, not incidentally, clear his name?
Devil's Trill is as much about character as it is about plot. Daniel Jacobus is a rather unique amateur sleuth, the kind of character one loves to hate. "It seems as though the competitions for child musicians, especially violinists, are no less cruel to them than cockfighting is to its bloody contestants," he says. "And cockfighting is illegal." But the supporting characters are equally memorable. Daniel has a student, Yumi Shinagawa, who was in the concert hall when the Piccolino was stolen. She sees right through him and recognizes him for the gifted teacher he is. She's willing to help, but when it looks like Daniel is about to be arrested, he arranges for her and Nathaniel to accompany him to Canada, and then on to Japan. His flight makes him appear guilty but he's only trying avoid being arrested in order to identity the culprit.
Devil's Trill is a tautly constructed mystery, one that not only provides a behind-the-scenes look at the high stakes world of music competition but will keep readers guessing, and serves as a terrific introduction to this series.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Devil's Trill.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of Devil's Trill for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), August 2010
ISBN-13: 9780312541897; ISBN-10: 0312541899
Location(s) referenced in Devil's Trill: New England
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Devil's Trill by Gerald Elias — A Daniel Jacobus Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: August 2009
List Price: $25.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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