The Lost Concerto, by Helaine Mario. Oceanview Publishing. 348 pages. Hardcover $27.95.
Picturesque, passionate, and pulse-pounding, Ms. Mario’s second novel is a gem of a thriller that has the taste and aroma of a perfectly blended wine. The author has given us entrances into classical music, art theft, terrorism, clandestine government operations, and romance.
Magdalena “Maggie” O’Shea is a concert pianist who has recently lost her husband Johnny, an investigative journalist. Though still wrestling with grief and loss, Maggie agrees to aid a government operative who feels that finding Maggie’s godson is the key to bringing down a terrorist operation. The boy’s murdered mother, Sofia Orsini, had been Maggie’s best friend. Sofia’s husband, Victor, might be the murderer.
Do Victor’s rare art and music manuscript holdings bankroll terrorist enterprises? Are his riches dependent on the stolen art his father had collected? Is he a rogue CIA operative? Or is he used by the CIA and other agencies to accomplish their devious ends? Johnny O’Shea was getting close to figuring this out. Johnny’s journal is Maggie’s guide to find out what happened to Sofia and Johnny, and also to finding Tommy – who she had sworn to protect.
Swinging into action begins to bring this emotionally lost woman back from her overwhelming despair. To the espionage agents, her code name is Concerto, thus book’s title has resonance as a tag for its protagonist as well as for a particular composition.
Long before Johnny had entered her world, Zachary Law had been the love of Maggie’s life. Their romance was mysteriously aborted, though Maggie gave birth to their son – now a thirty year old concert artist. Zachary enters the novel at a strategic moment, but I cannot go any further than whetting your appetite for this complication.
Special agent Simon Sugarman and Colonel Michael Beckett become Maggie’s handlers, though she is less concerned with their mission than her own – that of finding Tommy and, if necessary, rescuing him. Mike Beckett shadows Maggie’s movements and tries to keep the headstrong woman on a leash for her own safety. Slowly, inevitably, he falls in love with her. But a romantic relationship is not what a man in his profession can risk.
Knowing that Maggie has positioned as bait to draw out Victor Orsini and others, Mike does all he can to protect her. He is a truly original character, at once rugged and tender, with an unexpected sophistication for an outdoorsman. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the June 24, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the June 25 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Helaine Mario. Follow me on Twitter @phil_reviews and also see the terrific trailer for the book: http://youtu.be/yxAYieoZRxg