Books by Mary S. Bell

Released: April 30, 1992

An implausible story, set in Toronto, about a promising teenage violinist who becomes involved in smuggling cocaine in order to finance a trip to New York to audition for a prestigious scholarship. The first-person voice of protagonist Ron Simon is unconvincing, especially when he's talking about music; his descent into crime is poorly motivated—he hasn't tried very hard to find other sources of funds. And credulity is further strained when, after confessing to the police, he's released without being charged, or even interrogated about his contacts. There are also serious problems of disproportion: e.g., when Ron finally gets to the audition, he dismisses his performance in a sentence (``When the time came I was really up for it and played through the Paganini with no difficulty''), yet Bell indulges in a long description of how a character puts sugar in his coffee. A weak romantic subplot seems to exist mainly to accommodate a set piece on astrology—an astrologer once warned Ron's violinist girlfriend that she must never play that instrument. The visit to the astrologer and another scene in a violin repair shop are well written, but aren't good enough to redeem this mediocre first novel. A contrived happy ending is the last straw. (Fiction. 12+) Read full book review >