Machlis's fifth novel (Stefan in Love, 1991, etc.) is a deftly crafted rites-of-passage story about a concert violinist who finally acquires wisdom when he kicks his destructive habits and goes back to his first love. Danny Sachs is the only son of parents who want the best for him--though they show it in different ways. Mother Julia, observing his musical precociousness, thinks he's a genius and is prepared to do whatever it takes to have Danny's talent recognized. On the other hand, the boy's father, a pit violinist in Broadway musicals, tries to moderate Julia's extravagant expectations, not wanting his son to be a wunderkind (``the wunder goes and the kind remains''), though never actually discouraging him. Meanwhile, Danny is accepted by a prestigious teacher and meets other talented young musicians, among them Steve and Ruth, who become close friends. He's also loaned a Stradivarius by Amos Schein, a wealthy patron of the arts, then finally debuts at Carnegie Hall--most successfully. Now a recognized star, Danny travels the world giving concerts, usually with Ruth, his lover, as his accompanist. But Danny gets restless: He has an affair with Carla, an Italian violinist, breaks up with Ruth, seduces Schein's much younger wife, and starts taking drugs. Later, he meets and falls in love with a famous ballerina, Natalya, a loner who loves and leaves him. Devastated by her rejection, Danny's drug-taking increases, and an impulsive drive to see the vacationing Natalya on Cape Cod leads to his arrest, followed by time in a rehab center. There, he's compelled to deal with the shambles he's made of his life, emerging at last ready for music and true love. The perils and pitfalls of success competently addressed in a musical setting that gives a slightly different take on an all too familiar tale.