Five Star Review on Tome Tender for The Devil's Violin

 "Mr. Johnson’s gift for storytelling with a taut, crisp style is magnetic."

My Review:
The Devil's Violin by Art Johnson
My Rating:  5 Stars

Travel across continents with this dark and edgy mystery thriller where the main character is an almost priceless missing violin whose case is rumored to hold unbelievable secrets. The Devil’s Violin by Art Johnson is a mesmerizing journey into the world of priceless antiquities, greed and deceit. Where possession of these papers means everything and the means to that possession has no rules.

This prized violin is said to have been the very one that was played by the man called the Devil, as his ability to play was unearthly. Dark and mysterious, twisted and deadly, two FBI agents follow the bread crumbs they gather in a trans-global race to gain the prize. Among those caught in this twisted web are a master violin forger, a beautiful, yet mysterious woman, a professional thief and, the Man in Black. Is it possible that these hidden papers could be of interest to the clandestine Illuminati, too?

Art Johnson had me from the title! I saw the word “violin” and knew I had to read this. Add the amazing journey to the finish, the history of the violin and the possible contents of these papers, as well as the furious pace that feeds small pieces of the puzzle, timed perfectly and I could not put this down!

Mr. Johnson’s gift for storytelling with a taut, crisp style is magnetic. A striking plot that is populated by diverse characters that feel flawed and real, the excitement of the chase, make The Devil’s Violin more than a simple mystery. He manages to turn this into his own concert of words.


The world’s most prized violin becomes the centerpiece of intrigue as FBI Special Investigator Chris Clarke and his partner Carlos “Chubbs” Gonzales weave their way through a maze containing a notorious assassin, Illuminati, secret documents, a master violin forger and his deceptive and charismatic daughter, a Hollywood film producer and one of L.A.’s finest and most neurotic sneak-thieves.

The chase across two continents resolves in an art gallery in the South of France for a shocker of an ending.

FBI Special Investigator Chris Clarke doesn’t like “…anything or anyone” in his way while working a case. In his seventeen years with the Bureau, he has dealt with everything from retrieving stolen works of art to tackling some of the world’s biggest scumbags.

With his diverse background of art evaluation and Desert Storm duty, Chris Clarke is ready for all comers. Only one fugitive haunts his thoughts: the notorious and ruthless assassin known only as “The Man in Black," whose trail of contract killings had never led law enforcement to anything but a figure lurking in the shadows.

One morning in August 2010, the “man in black” suddenly popped up, seen by witnesses in Cremona, Italy to have been in the area where a young violinist was found dead with his throat cut. Chris Clarke and Gonzales head off to Europe to track down the assassin while attempting to decode the mystery that lies behind the motive.

Weeks before, Hollywood movie-mogul Max Pendleton, who loves fine works of art, no matter how they are acquired, hires veteran sneak-thief Gus Edward Happy to fly to Europe and steal the most valuable violin in existence—the famed violin coveted by the Jimi Hendrix of the nineteenth century, Niccolo Paganini--thought to be in league with the devil because his genius was unexplainable in earthly terms.

Through a tangled web involving Illuminati, secret documents in the possession of Paganini at his death, a master violin forger and his deceptive daughter, thieves, and assassins, Clarke faces the challenge of his career as he and his partner Gonzales move across Italy to the South of France where pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place with the Devil’s Violin center stage, leading to a rapid-fire conclusion.

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