Devil's Trill

Devil's Trill

Book - 2009 | 1st ed.
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From concert violinist Gerald Elias comes this debut set in the classical music world about the theft of a priceless violin.


Daniel Jacobus is a blind, reclusive, crotchety violin teacher living in self-imposed exile in rural New England. He spends his time chain-smoking, listening to old LPs, and occasionally taking on new students, whom he berates in the hope that they will flee.

      Jacobus is drawn back into the world he left behind when he decides to attend The Grimsley Competition at Carnegie Hall. The young winner of this competition is granted the honor of playing the Piccolino Stradivarius, a uniquely dazzling three-quarter-size violin that has brought misfortune to all who possessed it over the centuries. But the violin is stolen before the winner of the competition has a chance to play it, and Jacobus is the primary suspect.

     With the help of his friend and former musical partner, Nathaniel Williams, his new student,Yumi Shinagawa, and several quirky sidekicks, Jacobus sets out to prove his innocence and find the stolen Piccolino Strad. Will he be successful? The quest takes him through the halls of wealth and culture, across continents to Japan, and leads him to a…murder.

     Devil's Trill gives the reader a peek into the world of classical music, with its backstabbing teachers and performers, venal patrons, and shady violin dealers. It is the remarkable beginning of a wonderful new series.

Publisher: New York : Minotaur Books, 2009.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780312541811
Branch Call Number: FIC Elias
Characteristics: viii, 306 pages


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Aug 27, 2017

An OK book with too much background information on music (esp. violins) and Japanese culture. Could have been about 100 pages shorter without all the side-trips into music and descriptions of surroundings. Some of it didn't make much sense, either, and the main character is an unpleasant old coot.

Mar 16, 2016

I found this book to be intriguing. I loved the intricate plot line. And I enjoyed a different sort of crime-suspense novel. I have not seen many about musical instruments or with blind protagonists. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more about Jacobus!

Jul 27, 2014

Since I enjoy listening to classical music, I decided that a mystery involving musicians might be entertaining. This one got deeply involved in intricate problems of violin technique, a crash course in the classical music industry, and the making of violins. Gerald Elias explained all these things in a clear manner which contributed greatly to the story. The plot was satisfyingly complicated. Mainly the story is told from the viewpoint of the protagonist, who is blind. We get a smattering of other peoples' thoughts and a bit of Japanese customs. All in all it was a good read. I'll go on to the next in the series and see what Elias gets Jacobus into next.

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