Monday, August 3, 2015

The Last Concerto - Helaine Mario A Review

The Lost Concerto
Helaine Mario

A woman and her young son flee to a convent on a remote island off the Breton coast of France.  Generations of seafarers have named the place Ile de la Brume, or Fog Island. In a chapel high on a cliff, a tragic death occurs and a terrified child vanishes into the mist.
The child’s godmother, Maggie O’Shea, haunted by the violent deaths of her husband and best friend, has withdrawn from her life as a classical pianist. But then a recording of unforgettable music and a grainy photograph surface, connecting her missing godson to a long-lost first love. 
The photograph will draw Maggie inexorably into a collision course with criminal forces, decades-long secrets, stolen art and musical artifacts, and deadly terrorists. Her search will take her to the Festival de Musique, Aix-en-Provence, France, where she discovers answers to her husband’s death, an unexpected love―and a musical masterpiece lost for decades.
A compelling blend of suspense, mystery, political intrigue, and romance, The Lost Concerto explores universal themes of loss, vengeance, courage, and love.

As I sat down to review The Lost Concerto, I puzzled over which story to discuss, which tale to delve in to.  Most times when you are treated to a well written novel, you have a central theme (story) and one or two side stories that can be told to add breadth to the tale.  These could be stories that are running concurrently, back-stories that fills in the lives of the characters in the novel and adds depth and breadth to the central core and makes you love or hate the mainstay of the novel.  Sometimes, you might even get a side story that are small flash forwards of what is to come and whets your appetite for the coming pages and might give you a false sense of security or fright by leading you astray.
Helaine Mario swept this reader off her feet.  The mental score card came out as I began to track the numerous story paths through this complex and wondrous book that wrapped the reader in a web of intrigue.  There were several concurrent storylines that contained overlapping characters.  There were storylines with the same characters that flung the reader to the far and near past.  Each story, be it short or a longer one that continued to pop-up throughout the book, peeled back a little more of the total picture.  Each revelation changed the view of the panorama laid out before the reader, changing the viewpoint of what we thought and felt previously about a character or about where the story was headed. 
Who said, “nothing is as it seems, assume nothing”?  The only absolute to be assumed was that “all was not fair in love and war”.  Even as a reader, one felt ensnared in the tangled web of deceit that seemed to dominate both sides of this subtle war between the CIA and an ex-employee.  With a musician and a little boy caught in the web and at the center of the battle.  Who would win?  Would there be a winner?
Helaine did a great job of her character development.  Just like she did with her complex story lines, so she did with her characters.  Just as you thought you knew who someone was, you discovered that they were not the person you thought they were.  The friendships, the associations, the allies, the enemies; they seemed like fluid lines that moved and mixed.  You didn’t know who to trust, who to believe.  Much like the heroine, you had to stay focused on the reason – Max, the son of the heroine’s friend.  Nothing else could matter. 
This is one book that will go on the must be re-read shelf.  For with the coming of the last page, I knew I needed to read it again.  I wanted to gain all the nuances that I missed in the first read.  True, there were times I found myself rushing to turn the page, breathlessly waiting to see what the next page might reveal.  In my haste to absorb the incredulity and rush of the action of the story, what could I have missed?  Therefore, I find that I want to go back for a second read, knowing all, to wallow in the pure genius of the telling of the tale.
In my opinion, this is one book that should be up for multiple awards for fiction for 2015.  I cannot begin to enumerate the reasons for listing The Last Concerto a  FIVE STAR REVIEW!!!!

New York City born and raised, Helaine is a Boston University graduate.  She married in 1969 and moved to CT to raise her two children, volunteer at Save the Children, and write for the local newspaper.
 In 1985, Helaine’s life took an unpredictable turn when her husband’s career brought her family to Potomac, MD.  For all eight years of the Clinton Presidency, she was a White House volunteer for Tipper and Al Gore, and continues to be a passionate advocate for public service and women & children’s issues.
 Because Helaine believes strongly in “giving back,” she has worked on several non-profit boards and, in 1998, founded The SunDial Foundation, Inc., which benefits our most vulnerable women, children and families.  She also created Project PJs, offering new books, bears and pajamas to under-served children in the community.
 Helaine and her husband, Ron Mario, now spend their time in Arlington, VA – where she continues her advocacy work – Longboat Key, Florida, and Cape May, NJ.   She is grateful to be a twelve year cancer survivor and is most proud of her two children and four beautiful grandchildren.  Her son, Sean, is the pianist who inspired the classical music background inThe Lost Concerto.

Buy it at AMAZON