Ever since I watched Netflix’s The Perfection about a music prodigy reconnecting with her former mentor, I’ve been eager to pick up a book with the same twisty and dark undertones. There’s something so eerie about combining a beautiful art form—music—with a horrific crime or a story thats core is based on mystery and danger. Luckily, these types of books do exist. Maybe not as readily as their movie counterparts, but we’ll take what we can get. Here are five top-rated thrillers centered around music, musicians, and mystery.
by Dolly Parton
Every song tells a story.
She’s a star on the rise, singing about the hard life behind her.
She’s also on the run. Find a future, lose a past.
Nashville is where she’s come to claim her destiny. It’s also where the darkness she’s fled might find her. And destroy her.
Run, Rose, Run is a novel glittering with danger and desire—a story that only America’s #1 beloved entertainer and its #1 bestselling author could have created.
Growing up Black in rural North Carolina, Ray McMillian’s life is already mapped out. If he’s lucky, he’ll get a job at the hospital cafeteria. If he’s extra lucky, he’ll earn more than minimum wage. But Ray has a gift and a dream—he’s determined to become a world-class professional violinist, and nothing will stand in his way. Not his mother, who wants him to stop making such a racket; not the fact that he can’t afford a violin suitable to his talents; not even the racism inherent in the world of classical music.
When he discovers that his great-great-grandfather’s beat-up old fiddle is actually a priceless Stradivarius, all his dreams suddenly seem within reach. Together, Ray and his violin take the world by storm. But on the eve of the renowned and cutthroat Tchaikovsky Competition—the Olympics of classical music—the violin is stolen, a ransom note for five million dollars left in its place. Ray will have to piece together the clues to recover his treasured Strad ... before it’s too late.
With the descendants of the man who once enslaved Ray’s great-great-grandfather asserting that the instrument is rightfully theirs, and with his family staking their own claim, Ray doesn’t know who he can trust—or whether he will ever see his beloved violin again.
Oscar de Muriel
1888: A violinist is brutally murdered in his Edinburgh home. Fearing a national panic over a copycat Jack the Ripper, Scotland Yard send Inspector Ian Frey. Frey reports to Detective "Nine-Nails" McGray, local legend and the exact opposite of the foppish English Inspector. McGray’s tragic past has driven him to superstition, but even Frey must admit that this case seems beyond belief. There was no way in or out of the locked music studio. And there are black magic symbols on the floor. The dead man’s maid swears there were three musicians playing before the murder. And the suspects all talk of a cursed violin once played by the Devil himself. Inspector Frey has always been a man of reason—but the longer this investigation goes on, the more his grasp on reason seems to be slipping...
Gethsemane Brown, African-American classical musician and expatriate to an Irish village, solved a string of murders, led a school orchestra to victory in a major competition, and got used to living with a snarky ghost. She can rest easy over the Christmas holiday. Right? Wrong. The ghost has disappeared, her landlord's about to sell her cottage to a hotel developer, and her brother-in-law is coming for a visit—with one day’s notice.
She scrambles to call her spectral roomie back from beyond and find a way to save the cottage from certain destruction. But real estate takes a backseat when her brother-in-law is accused of stealing a valuable antique. Gethsemane strikes a deal with a garda investigator to go undercover as a musician at a charity ball and snoop for evidence linking antiques to a forgery/theft ring in exchange for the investigator’s help clearing her brother-in-law. At the party, she accidentally conjures the ghost of an eighteenth-century sea captain, then ends up the prime suspect in the party host’s murder. With the captain’s help, she races to untangle a web of phony art and stolen antiques to exonerate herself and her brother-in-law. Then the killer targets her. Will she save herself and bring a thief and murderer to justice, or will her encore investigation become her swan song?
by Roy Johansen
Delilah Winter is one of the hottest pop stars on the planet, so how in the world was she kidnapped right in the middle of a show at the famous Hollywood Bowl? If anyone can figure it out, it's Dr. Kendra Michaels, who works with local and federal authorities on only the most impossible cases. Blind for the first twenty years of her life until a revolutionary surgical procedure allowed her to regain her sight, Kendra uses her powers of observation—honed during her years in the dark—to detect what other investigators don't. She agrees to lead the race to rescue the young singer before time runs out.
Joined by Jessie Mercado, the singer's former bodyguard and a military hero, Kendra closes in on the hideout location but not before casualties mount up. Desperate for leads, Kendra must set aside her personal feelings when agent-for-hire Adam Lynch also volunteers his special skills to aid in the search.
But as the abductor's true purpose becomes clear, the trio uncover a plot they never could have imagined—leading to a showdown they won't soon forget.