“This novel reads to its own inner score of classics expertly played on the piano. Staccato by Deborah J Ledford is set in the beautiful scenery of the Smoky Mountains and revolves around the mansion and summer home of super-rich musician Alexander Kalman. Kalman was born in Hungary. Afflicted with a club foot, but blessed with music, and empowered by an enormous drive to succeed, he now supervises the musical careers of two young men, Nicholas who his sister adopted many years ago, and Timothy who has lived with him from childhood. But—listen to those powerful chords—Nicholas has found a notebook from his natural father, and things are not as they seem.
Eight months from now, Nicholas will come into his inheritance and be free. Eight months from now, he will publicize his romance with Alexander’s niece. Eight short months… But time is cut shorter than that and tragic events unfold as the music plays.
The author switches the narrative pace beautifully, like a well-played piece; tense arguments, slow ponderings, urgent climbs and pregnant pause. Then the first act ends. New characters appear; Steven Hawk and Inola Walela, working for the police in search of a missing person. The music plays differently—Smoky Mountain tracks replacing the grand opera, and the two strains twist and combine with an evil beat lurking underneath.
The difference between skill and hard work is beautifully played, between care and ambition, between help and control, and the whole is a fascinating book that brings music and the Smoky Mountain scenery to life. It will be interesting to see where Hawk and Walela take us when the author’s next novel comes out.