Death and the Maiden
Minotaur, Aug 16 2011, $25.99
Due to inner bickering and a potentially devastating law suit filed by fired second violinist Crispin Short, the internationally acclaimed New Magini String Quartet seems on the brink of disbanding. Although the group has become dysfunctional outside the stage, they still perform well together while new second violinist Yumi Shinagawa has blended in nicely in performances.
The Quartet is booked to perform Schubert's Death and the Maiden at Carnegie Hall once they return from vacation. However, first violinist Aaron Kortovsky fails to return from vacation and the others learn that if Short wins they are liable to him for millions with their reputations shattered; Short demands reinstatement in three days so he can perform the Shubert concert. Blind teacher Daniel Jacobus investigates but becomes concerned when he realizes his former student Yumi is the slated maiden Death targets.
The third Jacobus amateur sleuth (see The Devil’s Trill and Danse Macabre) is an entertaining whodunit with a surprising final coda. The inquiry is intriguing, but the story line is at its best when the focus is on the classical music scene. Although at times the plot slows down even with time running out in terms of the lawsuit, fans will enjoy wondering who plays first and second violin in the Death and the Maiden.