Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Book Review: Symphony of Secrets

Bern Hendricks has just received the call of a lifetime. As one of the world’s preeminent experts on the famed twentieth-century composer Frederick Delaney, Bern knows everything there is to know about the man behind the music. When Mallory Roberts, a board member of the distinguished Delaney Foundation and direct descendant of the man himself, asks for Bern’s help authenticating a newly discovered piece, which may be his famous lost opera, RED, he jumps at the chance. With the help of his tech-savvy acquaintance Eboni, Bern soon discovers that the truth is far more complicated than history would have them believe.

Symphony of Secrets, the latest novel from Brendan Slocumb, will be published on April 18, 2023. Anchor Books provided an early galley for review.

Slocumb's debut The Violin Conspiracy from 2022 was a very enjoyable book, so I was very excited to see what the author would do next. Once more, he uses his vast knowledge of music to create a new mystery. And, again, as an author of color, he is able to once again weave in themes regarding race and society to enhance the story in a natural, logical manner.

It took me a little bit to warm up to Bern, the fussy professor who is often obsessing about his appearance. However, I took instantly to Eboni, the Bronx computer-wiz with a passion for pizza. The present day part of the story really starts to sizzle when she is brought into the narrative.

And, as much as I love New York City, I felt excited when the story took a detour to Oxford, NC (about thiry miles from where I lived for several decades). The references as well as the whole Southern vibe was a fond reminder of my time living there.

As we learn more about Frederick Delaney via the scenes from the past, the secrets and truths of his rise to fame as a composer become clearer. And that is where the complex themes are explored. These are similarly mirrored in the present day when Bern and Eboni's digging into that past puts them in a challenging and deadly situation. I enjoyed how the latter half of the book played out, building back and forth until the final conflicts and resolutions.

This is another winner from Brendan Slocumb; he has quickly become a favorite author of mine.

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