Tag Archives: Helaine Mario

Confronting past trauma and betrayal on the path to revelation

Dark Rhapsody: A Novel, by Helaine Mario. Oceanview Publishing. 368 pages. Hardcover $26.95.

Ms. Mario’s new book is a sequel to The Lost Concerto, and now both titles are listed as parts of the Maggie O’Shea Mystery Series. The story concerns a series of secrets and misunderstandings, each with a dangerous obstacle on the path to revelation. It’s a story about trauma, harmful memories, betrayal, and ultimately the majesty of love. 

The author’s breathtakingly luxuriant prose captures the communicative emotional power of symphonic music. The plot winds through vividly rendered locales including Virginia, New York City, East Hampton, Tuscany, Rome, Vienna, Salzburg, and Provence.

Ms. Mario’s descriptions of the various settings are simply magnificent. She handles the interaction of character and scene with confidence and brilliance. She has a clear vision of the interplay between natural, man-made, and supernatural forces.

Mostly, she has a grand story, lavishly elaborated.

In the immediate aftermath of WWII, a young Austrian girl named Gisela finds a box among other containers holding gold and other Nazi-captured treasures. The box, which she hides, includes a rolled canvas marked as the property of Florence art dealer Felix Hoffman. From this opening scene, the story jumps into the present time.  We are brought to a cabin in Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains and introduced to the renowned pianist, Maggie O’Shea; her companion, retired Colonel Michael Beckett; and Michael’s beloved Golden Retriever – “Shiloh.”

Helaine Mario

Michael has pledged to protect Maggie from her threatening oppressor, a revenge-seeking madman named Dane, who had attacked her and injured her fingers, attempting to thwart her return to the concert stage.

Maggie suffers from blackouts that leave her unable to remember key elements in her life and nightmares that hint at truths she has repressed. Michael’s strength and dedication help alleviate her suffering. Maggie works to recover her abilities in time for the scheduled performance of an extremely difficult rhapsody.

Several scenes set in Italy develop the grotesque Dane, a fugitive disguised by botched plastic surgery, who is striving to gain control of the black market for rare, including stolen, art.

Secrets, lies, and misunderstandings have left Maggie with two major mysteries. One is to discover the truth about how her mother died. The other is to understand the reason behind an action of her father, the great conductor Finn O’Shea, who one day walked off the concert stage, stared at or through Maggie, and completely disappeared from her life. . . .

To read the full review, as it appears in the December 26, 2018 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the December 27 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Charlotte County editions, click here:  Florida Weekly – Dark Rhapsody.

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors and Books, Florida Authors

Music-themed thriller hits all the right notes

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.  LostConcertohi-res

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.

Helaine Mario

Helaine Mario

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

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors and Books, Florida Authors