The Paganini Curse by Giselle M. Stancic

In 1911 New York City, eleven-year-old Aurora Lewis arrives at her violin teacher’s studio and discovers his second-story window open, and his lifeless body on the sidewalk below. Falsely accused, Aurora with her friends, Theo, Eddie and Bill, begin a search for the truth that ultimately places her in harm’s way.

Ms. Stancic does a nice job of peppering the mystery plot with provocative clues and interesting characters. We get a good sense of the protagonist and the cultural inhibitions of a young girl’s life a century ago, even though the story, written in third person, keeps us at arm’s length.

The author’s musical involvement is evident in both the main character and the settings. It’s a coalescing theme throughout the story. Her writing is nicely crafted, clear, understandable and error free. I didn’t find a single typo.

Even though the book is labeled as young adult, I would recommend this for middle-grade girls, due to the age of the protagonist, the diction and the reading level of the text. I think boys would respond to a story with more tension, more threat to the protagonist and a situation where she has more at stake.

I found it distracting to discover young versions of two famous movie leading men, Edward G. Robinson and William Powell, in the first chapter.

Overall, it’s an engaging story. I read to learn the ending. That’s evidence of a good mystery.

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