“I really wanted to love Gerald Elias’ debut thriller, Devil’s Trill. I really, really, really wanted to love it. Really.
According to the jacket, the story has everything: classical music; a Stradivarius violin, in particular the Piccolino, supersititions, a crotchety protagonist, a great cover. Everything that makes Devil’s Trill sound like the fireplace read of the Fall. Now, I’m not one to give up easily. After all, I did read every word of Peter Straub’s Koko. But Elias needs to do what he knows best and that is sticking with playing the violin.
The main protagonist is Daniel Jacobus, a blind, reclusive violin teacher, who had the talent to win the prestigious Grimsley Competition at Carnegie Hall when he was less than thirteen years old. Jacobus attended the latest Grimsley, only to be ignored, berated, and accused of stealing the Piccolino.
Daniel enlists his best friend and former musical partner, Nathanial Williams, and a brand new student, Yumi Shinagawam to prove his innocence and find the stolen instrument. The jacket refers to the trio as “quirky sidekicks,” but Elias was going for political correctness. Jacobus is an old white guy, Williams is a robust African American, and Yumi is young, Japanese, and female. They don’t work.
The writing is boring, pure and simple. I was able to tolerate only one-hundred-and-nineteen pages before I couldn’t take it any more. There is no tension. The dialogue is inane and does not push the story forward. The haphazard trio’s characterization is over the top.
There is no doubt that Elias knows his stuff. His knowledge shines through and, while it can get too detailed at times, it doesn’t get in the way. Devil’s Trill is supposed to be the beginning of a new series. This is one reader who won’t be holding her breath until the next book hits the shelves.
Review originally appeared on www.armchairinterviews.com.