The Violin Conspiracy

A mystery by Brendan Slocumb about a Black classical musician.

The riveting story of a young Black musician who discovers that his old family fiddle is actually a priceless Stradivarius: when it’s stolen on the eve of the world’s most prestigious classical music competition, he risks everything to get it back.

Growing up Black in rural North Carolina, Ray McMillian’s life is already mapped out. But Ray has a gift and a dream — he’s determined to become a world-class professional violinist, and nothing will stand in his way. Not his mother, who wants him to stop making such a racket; not the fact that he can’t afford a violin suitable to his talents; not even the racism inherent in the world of classical music.

When he discovers that his beat-up, family fiddle is actually a priceless Stradivarius, all his dreams suddenly seem within reach, and together, Ray and his violin take the world by storm. But, on the eve of the renowned Tchaikovsky Competition, the violin is stolen, a ransom note for five million dollars left in its place. Ray is determined to get it back. But now his family and the descendants of the man who once enslaved Ray’s great-grandfather are each claiming that the violin belongs to them.

As the competition approaches, Ray must not only reclaim his precious violin, but prove to himself — and the world — that no matter the outcome, there has always been a truly great musician within him.

One Book, One Buncombe hosted a free community event featuring Brendan Slocumb, the author of The Violin Conspiracy, on Saturday, April 27, 2024.


This playlist comprises some of Slocumb’s favorite pieces of music. The playlist also includes a bit of old school hip hop, since Ray and Slocumb are total hip hop heads.

In The Violin Conspiracy, Ray learns these pieces and falls in love with them. As he progresses through his musical studies, he learns more advanced pieces, like the Bruch Concerto and the Mendelssohn Concerto.

As Ray grows as a performer, the music, too, grows and progresses, becoming intricate in virtuosity, more challenging to play. His prowess culminates with the repertoire in the Tchaikovsky Competition.

Listen to the playlist at Or listen on Spotify at


Brendan Slocumb was born in California and raised in Fayetteville, NC. He holds a degree in music education (with concentrations in violin and viola) from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. For more than twenty years he has been a public and private school music educator and has performed with orchestras throughout Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC.


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