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Arts & Culture
There are one million new books published each year. With so many books and so little time, where do you begin to find your next must-read? There’s the New York Times Bestseller list, the Goodreads app, the Cape Library’s Staff picks shelf and now Martin’s Must-Reads.Every Wednesday at 6:42 and 8:42 a.m., and Sunday at 8:18 a.m., Betty Martin recommends a must read based on her own personal biases for historical fiction, quirky characters and overall well-turned phrases. Her list includes WWII novels, biographies of trailblazers, novels with truly unique individuals and lots more. Reading close to 100 titles a year, Betty has plenty of titles to share.Local support for "Martin's Must Reads" comes from the Cape Girardeau Public Library and the Poplar Bluff Municipal Library.

Martin's Must Reads: 'The Violin Conspiracy'

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“Music is for everyone. It’s not - or least shouldn’t be - an elitist, aristocratic club that you need a membership card to appreciate: it’s a language. It’s a means of connecting us that is beyond color, beyond race, beyond the shape of your face or the size of your stock portfolio.”

I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and that’s a quote from the author’s note to The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb. As the story opens Ray McMillian, a black violin virtuoso, has discovered that his Stradivarius is not, in fact, in the case he carries everywhere, but has been replaced by a shoe and a ransom note for $5 million. And it’s mere days before the Tchaikovsky Competition for which he has qualified.

As the story progresses, Slocumb fills in the details of Ray’s life. As a young high school student he fell in love with the violin despite being ignored by his music teacher and derided by his mother. It was at a high school music competition that he meets Dr. Janice Stevens, one of the university judges who will change his life, securing a college music scholarship for him, teaching and encouraging him.

He’s afraid he will only be able to win the competition if he can play his Stradivarius. The FBI and insurance company begin to search. Ray is sure that either his family (for the insurance money) or the Marks family have stolen it. The Marks family believes the violin is their rightful inheritance because it was once owned by their slave owning ancestor.

If you’re looking for a mystery that’s both a commentary on the prejudice that still exists in our world today and a story about how one caring adult can make a huge difference in a young person’s life, then you must read The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb.

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