Book Review: Substitute Soloist by D.R. Ransdell

Substitute Soloist
An Andy Veracruz Mystery #4
D.R. Ransdell
Aakenbaaken & Kent, February 2019
ISBN 978-1-938436-77-2
Trade Paperback

Andy Veracruz, a mariachi musician who has won himself a place in the Tucson symphony orchestra, suddenly becomes the concertmaster when the present one is accused of murder. The evidence seems quite compelling, although the maestro insists she’s innocent. When she flees the scene, enlisting Andy’s help, he sets out to prove it. Their investigations take them to Europe and to Mexico before they’re done.

Thoughts: A lot of hustling here and there didn’t seem to make a lot of sense. Why would Andy put himself in danger to go through these contortions to find this very difficult and unlikable woman? If the police thought the woman murdered a man, why didn’t they figure into the plot? A ticking time clock to prove innocence before the cops arrest her? Not mentioned. I don’t even understand why the maestro chose Andy to help him. The best part of the book was the music involved, but for a new, barely adequate violinist to be chosen concertmaster over the others strikes me as odd, especially when he keeps talking about making so many mistakes and how badly he’s playing. And then to put him into all these other symphonies as concertmaster when they go to Europe on a wild goose chase? Hmm.

Frankly, it took me several days to get through the book. For me, it fell flat although that may say more about me than it does about the author. But it certainly did not strike me as the page turner another reviewer called it. Everyone will need to judge for him/herself. The story did, when I got to the end, have a good twist, the writing is well-done, and the musical aspects are educating and interesting.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, February 2020.
Author of The Woman Who Built A Bridge (Spur Award Winner), Yester’s Ride,
Hometown Burning and Five Days, Five Dead: A China Bohannon Novel

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