Ray Macmillan is something of a prodigy on the violin, despite having no private lessons, and until his grandmother gifts him with his great-great grandfather’s instrument, no violin of his own. Despite the lack of support from the rest of his family, and not being taken seriously because he’s a black kid who loves to play classical music, Ray perseveres, and eventually lands a full scholarship to study music. He begins to play competitions and recitals, and his career is beginning to take off. But it’s when he discovers that his violin is a rare Stradivarius that he begins to gain a lot of attention – a lot of it not the good kind. Under pressure to sell the instrument and share the money with his family, as well as a looming lawsuit, Ray is determined to hold onto the violin. And then, while preparing for a prestigious competition in Moscow, the violin is stolen.
This is Slocumb’s first novel, and as a black classical musician and teacher himself, he brings the voice of experience as he explores Ray’s experiences. He deftly integrates the casual racism alongside the bold, and in the process, crafts an intriguing page turner.