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The Violin Conspiracy  By  cover art

The Violin Conspiracy

By: Brendan Slocumb
Narrated by: JD Jackson, Brendan Slocumb
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Publisher's summary

GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK! • Ray McMillian is a Black classical musician on the rise—undeterred by the pressure and prejudice of the classical music world—when a shocking theft sends him on a desperate quest to recover his great-great-grandfather’s heirloom violin on the eve of the most prestigious musical competition in the world.

“I loved The Violin Conspiracy for exactly the same reasons I loved The Queen’s Gambit: a surprising, beautifully rendered underdog hero I cared about deeply and a fascinating, cutthroat world I knew nothing about—in this case, classical music.”—Chris Bohjalian, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Flight Attendant and Hour of the Witch

Growing up Black in rural North Carolina, Ray McMillian’s life is already mapped out. But Ray has a gift and a dream—he’s determined to become a world-class professional violinist, and nothing will stand in his way. Not his mother, who wants him to stop making such a racket; not the fact that he can’t afford a violin suitable to his talents; not even the racism inherent in the world of classical music.

When he discovers that his beat-up, family fiddle is actually a priceless Stradivarius, all his dreams suddenly seem within reach, and together, Ray and his violin take the world by storm. But on the eve of the renowned and cutthroat Tchaikovsky Competition—the Olympics of classical music—the violin is stolen, a ransom note for five million dollars left in its place. Without it, Ray feels like he's lost a piece of himself. As the competition approaches, Ray must not only reclaim his precious violin, but prove to himself—and the world—that no matter the outcome, there has always been a truly great musician within him.

©2022 Brendan Slocumb (P)2022 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

A Good Morning America GMA Book Club Pick! • ONE OF THE WASHINGTON POST'S BEST MYSTERY BOOKS OF THE YEAR • A Best Book of the Year: NPR, GOODREADS, Air Mail, Book Riot • A CrimeReads Best Mystery Book of the Year

A MOST ANTICPIATED BOOK OF THE YEAR: The Seattle Times, Goodreads, The Millions

A Medium Most Exciting Book Releases of the Year • Pop Sugar: 35 Must-Read Thrillers and Mystery Books to Keep You Chasing Clues • A Publishers Weekly Top Ten Mystery/Thriller

"Slocumb imbues his character's life with so much authenticity in the details, details that anyone who has played a stringed instrument, or played in a professional ensemble, will recognize. . . . Where Slocumb shines ... is in the passages where he shows Ray's grit. . . . [Brendan Slocumb] has plenty of brio to share with readers as well as listeners."NPR

“Such a page-turner . . . a musical bildungsroman cleverly contained within a literary thriller. . . . Slocumb isn’t too different from his protagonist: a natural. He easily conjures the thrill of mastering a tough musical passage and the tinnitus-like torture of everyday racism.”The New York Times

“When I opened Brendan Slocumb’s debut novel, The Violin Conspiracy, I was immediately transported to a place I’d never been, surrounded by characters I’d never met. In the crowded world of fiction, that’s no small accomplishment. . . . Slocumb has orchestrated an engaging and suspenseful story about an aspiring musician and his great-great-grandfather’s violin. . . . The Violin Conspiracy is so wonderfully written, especially its descriptions of music, that at times I questioned whether I was reading or listening to a concert. . . . Slocumb is equally adept at suspense, whether he’s conveying the ticktock of the main mystery or the heart-pounding, fist-clenching realities Ray has to face as a young Black man in America. This novel, which will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page, is sure to be a favorite in 2022.”The Washington Post

Featured Article: Best of the Year—The 13 Best Debuts of 2022


Looking back, it is hard to ignore the impact made by so many debut novelists in distinguishing 2022’s listening scene. We feel the untapped magic and momentum that radiate from debut novels often generate the buzz that defines a year and creates its most electric literary moments. Ranging from brooding, stormy stories to bubbly, heartfelt listens, these fresh voices each uniquely made a big splash in 2022.

Editor's Pick

Music to my ears, literally
If you're an aspiring musician like me, you'll find yourself wanting to pick up your instrument and start practicing while listening to The Violin Conspiracy. Author Brendan Slocumb, a Nobel Educator of Distinction for his more than two decades of work in K-12 music education and himself a performing musician, has a deep understanding of music’s ability to guide us toward the truest version of ourselves. In Slocumb's debut novel, Ray, an up-and-coming Black violinist, discovers what defines prestige in the world of classical music—which has long represented the pinnacle (as well as exclusivity) of Western taste—we learn by his side what’s so personal about performance. Brought to life by JD Jackson's fine-tuned narration and with a special note read by Slocumb himself, this listen is music to my ears. —Haley H., Audible Editor

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