The Lost Concerto, by Helaine Mario

Four stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Helaine Mario, and Oceanview Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book, which allows me to provide you with this review.

Mario takes the reader into the world of classical music, adding layers of mystery and intrigue to offer a well-rounded piece. Magdalena ‘Maggie’ O’Shea has suffered much in the past year: her best friend was murdered, her godson kidnapped during the same event, and her husband died in a freak boating accident. A classically trained pianist, O’Shea chose to leave that world behind and focus solely on running her small music shop in the heart of Boston after this trifecta of horrible occurrences. When approached by the US Justice Department, O’Shea is given a photograph that spins her life into added disarray, purporting to depict a long-dead love interest. O’Shea agrees to head to France to lure a wanted felon out of hiding and undertake her own investigation into her godson’s disappearance. O’Shea’s escort, a former military man, proves to be more than she bargained for, at times hampering her ability to effectively complete the mission at hand. While in France, truths are revealed that turn up additional mysteries, involving an ever-expanding collection of characters. At issue is not only the honour of O’Shea’s best friend and husband, but the chance to bring down a terror ring before more havoc can be enacted on US soil. Mario constructs this story as precisely as a classical composition, leaving the reader to marvel in its intricacies and powerful nuances.

This being my first experience with a Mario novel, I remained somewhat guarded as to what I might expect. Throughout the story, Mario returns to the classical music theme, weaving it not only into the plot, but adding wonderful decorative language to substantiate the Maggie O’Shea backstory. The characters prove believable and the plot crescendoes at a considerable pace, leaving the reader to pace themselves for the full effect. Set in multiple locations, Mario uses the various settings to her advantage and yet keeps the story from getting too lethargic, which is helpful as some of the content can become a little heavy. Mixing drama, thrills, and a little romance into the story, the reader is treated to a variety of character and plot developments, sure to impress as well as entertain. With only a few minor factual errors, Mario offers up a well-crafted story whose movements leave the reader guessing as to its final resolution.

Kudos, Madam Mario for such a wonderful novel. I hope to see more from you in the future.