Anne Rice in her short form, and yet dreadfully in need of a caustic edit. Wavering between dream and reality, Rice (Servant of the Bones, 1996, etc.) opens with vastly wealthy Triana Becker's heartbreak in New Orleans as her husband Karl dies of AIDS. She lies embracing Karl's corpse for two days, celebrates the love he and she had, and longs to follow him into the grave: "All the blood in our dark sweet grave is gone, gone, gone, save mine, and in our bower of earth I bleed as simply as I sigh. If blood is wanted now for any reason under God, I have enough for all of us." As the reader struggles for a footing in all this gush, Triana's mourning flows into a bitter argument with her sisters, Katrinka and Rosalind, as they ponder where their missing younger sister Faye has gone, noting that a vagabond violinist who has been pursuing Triana has also vanished. Triana has seen a lot of death: her father, her drunkard mother, and the young daughter she and her first husband, Lev, lost to cancer. When Prince Stefan Stefanovsky, the violinist in question and now a ghost, returns with his fiddle, she parries his advances in surprisingly wooden dialogue. She steals his Stradivarius and, vamping its phantom strings, is able to transport herself and Stefan back to Vienna and Beethoven, then to Venice and Paganini, and, in increasingly surreal sequences, to Rio de Janeiro and to triumphs as an untutored virtuoso, even as the Strad summons up all her dead from the beyond. Of the gilded pen that single-handedly revived the vampire genre much can be forgiven, but this soul-mush is worse than Marie Corelli's, who molded such lavender vapors into novels a century ago (The Sorrows of Satan, etc.) and is now well-forgotten.