A copy of The Lost Concerto by Helaine Mario was provided to me for my honest review. A suspenseful, adventure-filled mystery with equal parts romance and political intrigue, the book follows strong female protagonist Maggie O’Shea, a former classical pianist who renounces her music, haunted by the violent deaths of her husband and best friend, as well as her young godson’s disappearance.
Johnny O’Shea, Maggie’s deceased husband was an investigative journalist on a mission to find out what had happened to his wife’s best friend Sofia and godson Tommy. Still grieving, Maggie finds strength in Johnny’s presence pushing her forward through her grief; Maggie blames herself for Johnny’s death having asked him to research the death of her best friend and attempt to discover the missing Tommy’s whereabouts.
After a music recording and a photograph surface, Maggie finds out from the FBI that a long lost love and the father of her own son, Zachary Law, may have faked his own death, might still be alive, and could be connected to her best friend’s murder.
Maggie sets out from the United States to France and Italy with Colonel Michael Beckett to track down her missing godson and finds herself amidst an international art theft conspiracy. Over the course of Maggie’s journey through Europe, she finds clues and secrets related to all those involved in these intertwined criminal, art theft, and terrorism cases and even begins to allow herself to love again as she forges a bond with Beckett.
The writing is style is lyrical in keeping with the musical theme and beautiful backdrop while also remaining unobtrusive; the stylistic choices suit the voice of the piece and are not “in-your-face” for the sake of being clever. The characters are well developed and multidimensional; we witness the story from many points of view and discover that Mario has crafted a realistic world where good people, under the worst circumstances, are capable of making some bad choices. Several storylines running concurrently have places and characters that overlap across the span of time the novel covers. As these past and future stories are made known to the reader, clues are revealed and we begin to have a greater mental picture of what really happened. These breadcrumb reveals serve to change the reader’s opinions on not just the central driving action of the story, but also the intentions of some of the main characters, ultimately making us reconsider their alignment. Overall, the plot of the story takes a lot of unexpected twists and turns and readers become engaged in solving the puzzles interwoven in the novel’s action.
The Lost Concerto is Helaine Mario’s second novel, inspired by her son Sean, a classical pianist. The New York native author graduated from Boston University and is active in the nonprofit world, having served on boards in both Connecticut and Maryland. Mario is President and Founder of The SunDial Foundation, a DC-area nonprofit that contributes funds to other nonprofits in support of women, children, and families with special needs. The SunDial Foundation “supports inner city food banks, education, health, shelter, child protection, the arts and economic development, with an emphasis on programs that promote dignity, independence and safety, and combat poverty, hunger, sickness and homelessness.”