Bern Hendricks, a professor of music at University of Virginia, is a brilliant scholar who has idolized Frederic Delaney, the most famous American composer and a man he regards as the best composer who ever lived. As a young, poor Black boy, Henricks was given a chance to develop his musical talent through the belief and support of the Delaney Foundation. Hendricks was a proud "DF Kid". The organization was created to support children like Bern and to protect the legacy of Delaney, whose works in the last years of his short life were noticeably inferior to his earlier works.
Bern is invited by the Foundation to come to New York City to work on the long-lost fifth and final part of Delancey's masterpiece opera, the Rings of Olympia, which was just found. He jumps at the opportunity. With the help of Bern's computer whiz friend Eboni, clues emerge that a Black woman named Josephine Reed may have been involved in the creation of Delaney's music. Could she have been the true composer? Not only would this change everything for Bern but this would be a huge blow to the Foundation and Delaney's legacy. This riveting, dual timeline story takes us back to when Delaney was struggling to create his own music and met Josephine, a person with a unique talent to develop a wide range of beautiful music through absorbing her surroundings and putting it all down in a series of unique doodles.
If you read and enjoyed author Brendan Slocumb's debut novel, The Violin Conspiracy, you won't want to miss Symphony of Secrets. It is so creative in its plot and characters, including the special, neurodivergent Josephine and the passionate Bern who wants to ensure that Josephine's contribution to music is not forever erased. And when it comes to historical fiction, I love when New York City is the setting, especially during the Jazz Age with its vibrant music scene. As a mystery, it's a very enjoyable ride.
Many thanks to the author and Anchor Books for the advance copy. You don't need to be a music lover to enjoy this book. But if you are, Symphony of Secrets will be a real treat.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Historical Fiction | Mystery.
Publication Date: April 18, 2023.
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