Mario’s enjoyable if melodramatic sequel to 2015’s The Lost Concerto finds classical pianist Maggie O’Shea at the cabin of her lover, Col. Michael Beckett, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. When she tells Michael she feels as if she’s losing control of her life, he reassures her that she’s taking it back “one note at a time.” She hopes that she’s seen the last of the evil man known as Dane, with whom she has tangled in the past, but Michael knows that Dane isn’t finished with Maggie. Meanwhile, Maggie is haunted by fragmented childhood memories of her pianist mother’s drowning and by the disappearance of her father, a famous conductor who walked out of Carnegie Hall in the middle of a performance just weeks after her mother’s death. Maggie’s story links up with the Nazi theft of art during WWII and the hunt for it in the present day. Michael and Maggie contend with various bad guys, including some who belong to Yale’s Skull and Bones society, en route to the inevitable clash with Dane. Mario manages to hold all the plot pieces together surprisingly well. Romantic suspense fans will find much to like. (July)
"From Manhattan and Washington to Vienna and Salzburg, Dark Rhapsody by Helaine Mario takes the reader on a suspense-rich journey into a violent collision of the worlds of lost art, famous musicians, and international politics. Mario writes with the soul of poet, painting her characters and scenes with deft touches of insight and wit. Her heroine, Maggie O’Shea, will burrow into your heart. Dark Rhapsody is that rare novel—a story that’s a page-turner and a deeply felt character study.” — Gayle Lynds, New York Times best-selling author
“As much about art as music, [Dark Rhapsody] reveals the transformative power of both.” — Library Journal
“Romantic suspense fans will find much to like.” — Publishers Weekly
“Mario hooks you with layers of mysteries almost completely enough to overcome the sentimentality seeping out between perils.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Dark Rhapsody by Helaine Mario is a book not to be missed. My only complaint is that it ended! I wanted this marvelous work to go on and on.” — BookLoons
Set shortly after The Lost Concerto, Mario's sequel picks up with Maggie O'Shea recovering at Michael Beckett's Blue Ridge Mountains cabin. When Maggie finds herself playing Duke Ellington's improvisational "Mood Indigo," she realizes her life no longer resembles an ordered, classical composition; she must go with the flow, as uncomfortable as that may be. Maggie accepts an invitation from Carnegie Hall, choosing to perform Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody. What better way to transcend tragedy than with a piece written to express emotion, free of form, and with an air of improvisation. When someone fills Maggie's Carnegie Hall practice room with roses and leaves a note alluding to her dead husband, she fears the worst. Several months ago, Dane tried to kill her, failed, vowed he would come for her, and then disappeared. This must be Dane…and he is coming. She turns to lifelong family friends for guidance and, like a passage of music, her summer theme repeats—stolen art, criminals, and family secrets. VERDICT Truly a sequel, this title depends greatly upon the reader's experience of The Lost Concerto. As much about art as music, it reveals the transformative power of both.—Laura Cifelli, Fort Myers Regional Lib., FL
A war veteran and a concert pianist face a deadly rival over stolen art.Nearly a year after pianist Magdalena O'Shea lost her husband in a shattering confrontation with an evil man known only as Dane, dreams of his death still haunt her. But at least she's not alone: Retired Col. Michael Jefferson Beckett, her protector-turned-lover, has taken Maggie to a mountain retreat to help her overcome her fear and guilt as she prepares for a comeback concert at Carnegie Hall. In the meantime, Dane has gotten a new face, thanks to plastic surgery, and a new purpose: to break Maggie's fingers one by one. His other obsession is his continuing quest for a cache of art stolen from a Jewish gallery owner during World War II. But Gisela Donati, an Austrian musician who stole from the thieves when she was a child, now wants to return some of the artworks to their rightful owner's heir, and Beckett brings in his friend and ex-Marine Simon "Sugar" Sugarman to help with the task. One of the missing pieces, Dark Rhapsody, a haunting painting by Matisse, was once in Maggie's parents' safekeeping, and their connection to the painting—and to members of Yale University's most prestigious secret society—leaves Maggie with more disturbing childhood flashbacks and unanswered questions. Why did her conductor father walk offstage in the middle of a performance and out of her life, and how did her mother really die? In pursuit of answers and art and one another, the principal characters cross oceans and countries, swap aphorisms from St. Francis of Assisi and Elvis, and find time for romantic attachment, both human and otherwise, as past events and present dangers converge over Dark Rhapsody.Although this intercontinental race/chase relies far too much on its predecessor (The Lost Concerto, 2016), Mario hooks you with layers of mysteries almost completely enough to overcome the sentimentality seeping out between perils.