The Lost Concerto by Helaine Mario

The Lost Concerto by Helaine MarioThe Lost Concerto tries to be many things without settling into the rules of any specific genre. It’s a mix between thriller, mystery, literary, and women’s fiction, among others. Some of these elements worked better for me while others, specifically the mystery, did not. The way the mystery is put together, the reader never has the information necessary to understand it until the reveal, and that’s with spending time in the points of view (POVs) of the characters who are driven by this information but choose not to mention it. This is a pet peeve of mine, and why I don’t tend to read mysteries, but still I kept reading this one despite the frustration.

Why I did is complicated, and has a lot to do with that mix of elements I mentioned. There are many POV characters beyond the two I dubbed the main characters, Maggie O’Shea and Michael Beckett. Maggie definitely holds that role, but the rest include a Treasury Department agent, a hired assassin, a terror financier, and many more. Though Shiloh never got the POV, the war veteran golden retriever plays a big role too.

The writing is beautiful and lyrical with description to enthrall all the senses. The sense of music as a background is strong and powerful. At the same time, the writing is not obtrusive, allowing the story about good people trying to the right thing even when it puts them in danger and the length bad people will go to protect themselves to take the main stage. If that sounds like a simple plot, don’t worry. It’s much more complicated than that because you learn how the good folks don’t always take the good path, and what drove the bad people to make those choices that sets them on the other side not just of the law but of all that is good. They are complex, obsessive, and sometimes even self-aware.

Nor does the book take itself too seriously, peppered as it is with music jokes and puns conveyed on whatever t-shirt Maggie happens to be wearing.

She is a concert pianist who cannot play in the face of the murder of her best friend quickly followed by the death of her beloved husband when he’d gone on a search for her friend’s missing son. Though labeled an accident, something about the whole thing doesn’t sit well and given the chance to do something instead of fade into darkness, Maggie jumps on board.

Maggie’s story is not the only one with roots in tragedy. There is a strong thread running through out of surviving and recovery carried on in Michael Beckett and his dog as well. Both suffer from post-traumatic syndrome having been injured on the front in Afghanistan. Nor are they the only ones, either. The story looks at coming back from the darkness and fulfilling promises made to lost loves.

It’s powerful and evocative. It’s also brutal and graphic at times, sparing the reader nothing. Other times, it’s funny and poignant. And throughout the whole winds a love of music that is tangible.

The Lost Concerto might not follow genre conventions, it might play games with what the reader knows that are author intrusion in keeping secrets even when we’re in the POV of characters who know, but the story itself is one to keep you reading, the flaws minor in comparison to the power of deep characters and complex situations.

P.S. I received this title from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Note: The book won’t be published until July 1st, 2015, so you’ll have to be patient.

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