Dissonance: A Novel of Music and Murder by Barbara Burt
Allegra Brewster has returned to her childhood home to take her first 'real' job post-graduate school. She has just earned a Master's degree in arts management and is employed as an assistant to the director of the local summer arts (music) festival in her small town in coastal Maine. She is also a cellist. She has been involved with the festival since she was a kid and her father is on the board. When the story opens, there is trouble brewing. The director, Dr Sylvia Abbott (a geologist) has decided that the financial situation requires the musicians to take a 35% pay cut, add free performances to the schedule, and reapply for their positions by writing an essay about what the festival means to them. What she is really trying to do is break the musicians union. Her thinking is that they will be outraged, strike, and turn the townspeople against them. She manages to get most of the other board members to go along with this plan, but Allegra's father, David, holds out.
Time passes and events unfold. The festival rolls around once again, but this time someone will not be around to see the end of it. With so many people around, any number of people could have committed the murder and suspicion falls on various people in turn, including on David. Allegra and her ex-boyfriend, Luke, start snooping around since the police detective has some bigotry issues that cloud his judgement.
Music is a huge part of this book--almost a character in and of itself. This was one reason why the book was appealing to me when I read the description and I was not disappointed. Allegra turns to music to help her through tough times and to suit her mood. Many songs are mentioned in the book and there is a Spotify playlist that goes with the book. I have looked up some of the music mentioned and found it on YouTube. I am more interested in cello music now than I was before reading this book, which I am thrilled about. I feel like that's one of the gifts of the book for me--more music to discover. Also, I am fascinated by the ways in which people find and cultivate their passions in life, no matter what they are, but particularly in creative endeavors. I've done life story work with artists and craftswomen where they talked about this, so this was a very appealing part of the book for me.
The story was well-written and interesting. I enjoyed the backstories of the characters, although in one case the way this was presented seemed a bit like it was just plunked down out of nowhere in a short chapter in order to justify what came next. Really, that was my only quibble with the book and it didn't detract from my reading experience. I found myself immersed in the story from the beginning and when I had to set the book aside I was eager to get back to it. The ending was plausible and unexpected. It's a really good read, which I heartily recommend.
I received a copy of the e-book from NetGalley in exchange for a review. I thank them, the publisher, and the author.
Sounds different from anything I've read, good to know you enjoyed it so much!
Yes, it really is unique in a good way! 🙂
Not on my Netgalley here
Love your book reviews
Thanks, Brenda :-)
It's a shame it's not on NetGalley there--she is a US-based author. When I tried to post the review to Goodreads it couldn't find the ISBN so I had to search for it there and then copy and paste once I found it. I find that happens fairly frequently with the NetGalley UK site.
Dear Shari, I didn't quite understand who was murdered, but I assume it was Dr Sylvia Abbott? What bothers me about most crime novels now is that first of all, all the people are suspected in turn - and the murderer is ultimately the least suspect or plausible person. Sometimes, right from the start, I say about a particularly nice person: "That's the killer!" ;-) So I would be more surprised if the killer is one of the original suspects....
But I see what you find appealing about the novel. I also like learning new things through a book, and music is a subject that interests me too. My husband and I have already gotten to know some good music through books, but sometimes also music that didn't meet our taste. That's the way it is, in any case, new experiences are opened up through books. And that's wonderful.
All the best,
I didn't say who was murdered--I try not to include spoilers in my reviews :-) It may or may not have been Dr Abbott.
I know what you mean--sometimes I know right away 'whodunnit' and sometimes I don't. It usually doesn't matter to me because I don't read the kinds of mysteries I do for the puzzle aspect. I just like certain subgenres in that category and I've been reading them for decades, ever since I discovered Agatha Christie as a kid. I guess you could say it's a kind of comfort reading. But there's usually another aspect of the story that appeals to me as well--in this case it was the setting in Maine (we lived there for a while) and the music.
Well, you know, even the music that wasn't to your taste was a new experience--you tried it, didn't like it, and that's cool, too :-) Better than not trying it at all!
This certainly sounds a very interesting read.
Many thanks for sharing your thoughts, a very good review.
Wishing you a happy weekend.
So hard to believe that it will be February on Wednesday!
All the best Jan
I know! A new month is fast approaching! Soon the trees will be leafing and flowers blooming!
Thanks for your comment and your answer, dear Shari!
I didn't realize that you deliberately avoided not naming who was murdered :-o (Most people usually don't spoil who the MURDERER is ;-DDD)
I like Agatha Christie's books too - she's simple the mother of all well-written crime novels, and: Yes, it's true, we read such books not only because of the criminal case, but also or mainly because of the atmosphere, the setting or the topic (like music, for example).
Best wishes - have a happy weekend,
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