Title: Devil’s Trill
Author: Gerald Elias
Release Date: August 18, 2009
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
When a famous violin, an unparalleled 3/4 size Stradivarius, is stolen from the Grimsley, a competition for gifted violinists under the age of 13, the first person the police look at as a suspect is Daniel Jacobus. Daniel is a bitter blind man who was a Grimsley competitor himself when he was young (he came in second), but since has become a vocal opponent of Grimsley, which he believes exploits and destroys children who would otherwise have long and happy careers as violinists. Daniel does have a motive to steal the violin, but since he didn’t, he goes on the hunt for it in order to clear his name.
Devil’s Trill is a complicated novel, as you can tell by the somewhat convoluted summary above. There are a lot of characters and the plot is complex and layered. However, it never loses the reader’s attention; Devil’s Trill is a masterfully drawn mystery with engaging characters, interesting history, and a tantalizing glimpse into the world of violinists.
Daniel Jacobus is a real curmudgeon. He’s so bitter and unhappy, yet the reader can’t help but admire him for his talent. He has great instincts, and his processes of observation are impressive, doubly so since he is blind. He’s simply a fascinating character and does a great job as investigator in the theft of the Stradivarius violin. As his history is uncovered and the reader comes to understand more about him, they can’t help but sympathize with Jacobus.
The information presented about violins and their history is really interesting. I recently read another mystery that had to do with violins, The Rainaldi Quartet by Paul Adam, and I was worried that this book would be more of the same. However, I was completely wrong. Devil’s Trill is unique and presents its own information and history. The peek into the world of violinists is also really interesting. Jacobus has very strong views on the Grimsley Competition and the exploitation of young violinists as a novelty.
Devil’s Trill is a captivating mystery that I highly recommend, whether you’re a music lover or just a fan of well-written mysteries. It’s hard to believe that this is Elias’ first novel; I look forward to reading his most recent book!