Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Vanishing Violinist: Review

Things are heating up in Joan Spencer's life. The amateur viola player and oftentimes amateur detective's third outing in The Vanishing Violinist (1999) by Sara Hoskinson Frommer finds her finally planning a wedding to Lieutenant Fred Lindquist, being told that she's soon to be a mother-in-law, and landing in the middle of a mystery at the International Violin Competition in Indianapolis, Indiana. Joan lives in the small college town of Oliver but when she calls her daughter to tell Rebecca that she's planning a wedding, Rebecca has news of her own. She is engaged to a violin virtuoso who will be performing at the International Violin Competition. Rebecca wants her mom to meet up with Bruce in Indianapolis and give him some moral support during the competition. Joan winds up providing support for much more than just that....

When the Stradivarius violin belonging to one of Bruce's rivals disappears, he becomes a prime suspect. He had gone to Camila Pereira's host family's house to wish her luck before her first performance. As chance would have it, he was left alone (while she dressed for the competition) for a time period long enough to have snatched the violin from its case and stashed it somewhere. Then when the Brazilian beauty herself disappears the Indianapolis police are once again sizing him as a kidnapper. After an Oliver police officer is killed in a fatal hit-and-run accident, clues provided by local schoolchildren surface that make Joan believe answers may lie closer to her home than she'd like. She and Fred untangle the remaining threads that allow the Indy police to make a dramatic arrest on the night of the Competition's awards.

This is the first of the Joan Spencer series that I've read. I'm sure reading the first two would provide some backstory, but I didn't really feel like I had missed anything vital to the plot of novel number three. Frommer introduces the characters in such a way that readers can settle right in and feel like they already know these people. Joan is an engaging protagonist and her family and friends round out the recurring characters nicely. If the rest of the books are as interesting, then this definitely seems like a cozy series worth reading in its entirety. Not quite fair play in its cluing, but modern mysteries don't always follow such niceties. However, there are strong indications which the clever reader may pick up on. Good solid cozy mystery fare. ★★★
[finished on 4/30/17]

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