"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

Mysteries Galore Reviews Art Johnson's The Devil's Violin

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

The Devil’s Violin begins with an act from the past that sets in motion an unexpected chain of events tying all the players involved in the story together. Niccolo Paganini, a world famous violinist termed by many as the Devil because of his extraordinary skills, is on his deathbed in Italy. Niccolo has promised his cherished violin to the mayor of Genoa so that it can be put on display in the museum. However, he wants the 1742 Guarneri to remain in the family, so he hides it along with secret documents that are inside the case under the floorboards in his apartment and leaves an exquisitely crafted forgery of the instrument for the museum. He plans to tell his son where the real violin is hidden, but dies without revealing his secret.

The story then moves forward to the present day in Los Angeles. Max Pendleton, a Hollywood film producer, hires two top-notch thieves to steal the violin from the museum. Plans for keeping the heist under wraps go slightly awry when a violinist in Italy is found with his throat cut, and the man fleeing the scene is described as a man dressed all in black. This act triggers a manhunt led by Special FBI Agent Chris Clarke for the man in black, since the MO at the murder scene is consistent with a contract killer who has eluded the FBI for years.

Art Johnson has artfully integrated believable and relatable characters into a story filled with violin history, secret societies, deception, intrigue, greed, and non-stop action that keeps the reader invested in the outcome of the story. The tension builds throughout the novel culminating in a nail-biting confrontation in Italy between the players who have a vested interest in locating the violin. There are surprising twists and turns in the plot that makes for an engrossing mystery thriller. The few minor grammatical mistakes do not detract in any way from the overall enjoyment of the story.

The author has left it open for this book to be the beginning of a highly entertaining and captivating series. There are unanswered questions involving a couple of the key players who assisted the FBI, and Special FBI Agent Chris Clarke has a new case to solve.

Reposted from Mysteries Galore

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