Rick’s second novel is set in the classical music world. Victoria Morgan is a rising, young violin virtuoso who doesn't always have her feet firmly planted on the ground. She's invited to play at a prestigious music competition in London. The only prize is a Stradivarius violin -- and worldwide media attention.

Accompanied on the trip by her trumpet-playing husband, it doesn't take long for trouble to happen. A fellow competitor and good friend of Tory is murdered -- and it looks as if Tory's next. In order to save her life while they try to discover what in heaven’s name is going on, Tory and Oscar (whom everyone calls Rocky -- you'll have to read the book to find out why!) take off into the English countryside.

The solution is not what they would ever have imagined, and sorely tries their relationship, tests their resolve and ultimately shows them the value of true friendship and honesty. And you thought classical musicians are dull...

Here are some samples from the opening of the book:

The woman I love is a genius and I have to tell you right off the top that it's damned hard to be married to one. I should know -- it almost killed me...

Someone caused dinner to be held up on our flight from Washington to London. That someone was my wife. Uproar happens frequently when Tory’s around, and of course we’d booked a flight where everyone seemed to be a classical music lover. I heard the undercurrent of excited chatter the moment we boarded: "Victoria Morgan." "That's Victoria Morgan." You get the drift.

So she'd spent a good hour speaking with them, being photographed, signing autographs. At least no one asked her to play, because she probably would have. One time, she concertized for half the trip from Washington to Chicago.

The fans reluctantly drifted away when a stewardess, after two previous attempts, announced loudly, "Supper is being served NOW."

"I'm glad that's over with," I told Tory as she sat down.

"Aw, Rocky, don’t go on about it again! I owe it to them. They're the people who come to my concerts and buy my recordings. I can't be rude and tell them not to bother me." She grabbed my arm with both hands, snuggling against me. "Think of it this way: if it weren’t for them, we wouldn't be flying first-class to Britain, not on our orchestra pay."

"Yeah, I know," I sighed.

And after Tory's first performance at the competition in London:

Tory flopped down on a chair at the opposite end of the small room, cheeks flushed, eyes glowing with the excitement of her post-performance high. "Well, Rocky, my love, what's the verdict?"

"Morgan 2, Mozart 0."

"That bad?"

"No. It wasn’t typical Mozart. Your playing was warm and genuine, but maybe a bit too big, that's all. The Bach was good, and everything else -- especially the Prokofieff -- great. If it were up to the audience, you'd have the violin right now and you know it. What the judges thought is anybody's guess."

Tory scrunched her mouth to one side as if to say, "I tried."

While she changed into jeans, sneakers, and a sweatshirt, I wiped off and packed up her fiddle. After she carelessly threw her sweat-drenched gown into the clothing bag, we headed out the stage door. A few hangers-on had waited for autographs and I stayed in the background holding her stuff as Tory obliged.

The night was warm and rain didn't seem imminent, so we dismissed the limo, deciding to walk back to the hotel instead.

We stepped off the sidewalk to cross the street and Tory suddenly turned to look back. I continued on to the other side where I, too, turned around. She stood in the street, peering into the shadows at the back of the Barbican Centre.

I glanced to my left and saw a car hurtling down the deserted street. As it sped closer, something told me they weren't going to stop. I bellowed, "Tory!"

She turned to face me as I launched myself towards her.

Tory still hadn't seen the danger. Giving her a shove toward the space between two parked cars, I spun around to see the car now bearing down on me. At the last second, I leaped blindly to the side to avoid being broadsided and thrown halfway to the Thames.

The world erupted in a shower of blinding sparks.

Why is someone out to kill Tory? Is it because she's the front runner to win the competition (and a fabulous Stradivari violin), or is it something more sinister?

Sadly, this book is out of print. Used copies are available on the Internet, but as Rick's writing is becoming more widely known, these copies are becoming more expensive and less easy to find. If you can get your hands on one of the trade paperbacks, do, since they are fewer in number and may someday be worth a good deal.

"Rick Blechta has written a suspenseful novel, with real people and real places. His characters are always convincing, never phony and stiff. He makes good use of a country that is filled with beautiful scenery and rich in history. A most entertaining novel."
---Regina Leader Post

"Besides being a good story, the novel gives a superb account of the day-to-day life of classical musicians. Readers will be tempted to buy some, or all, of the repertoire described in this highly recommended story."
---Canadian Book Review Annual

"...some of the musical feelings experienced when reading the book were so evocative, we went out and purchased all the music that 'Tory 'played'. A fine read."
---Merchant of Menace

From Rick:

"I wrote this novel as a love letter of sorts. One is to the violin which I feel is the most expressive and lovely of the solo voices -- and that's coming from a card-carrying French horn player!

The other thing I was trying to express was the deep resonance I have with the countryside of the British Isles -- especially Wales. I never really believed in reincarnation until my wife and I spent several days in 1990 travelling around that very beautiful corner of our planet. Somehow, I always seemed to know where we were going and everything seemed very familiar. It was a strange sensation. That's also why I made Tory Welsh-speaking. The language is the most musical I have ever heard.and goes a long way in explaining why the Welsh sing so well.

One of the most haunting places I have ever been to is the hill known as Ysgyrd Fawr. If you're ever near Abergavenny in South Wales, you owe it to yourself to climb to the top. The view alone is worth it, but aside from that, there's just something about it..."

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