Playing with Fire (A Daniel Jacobus Mystery) by Gerald Elias


Reviewed by Teri Davis

Playing with FireWhy did you purchase a musical instrument? Did you dream of playing music? Could you imagine yourself in Carnegie Hall playing to standing room only audience embracing the melodies and enriching every listener to a once-in-a-lifetime experience?

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Surprisingly, not everyone views the purchase of a musical instrument this way.
Daniel Jacobus is a crotchety blind violinist. Years ago, he lost his vision just as the opportunity for greatness opened for him. Perhaps there is a reason for his being upset with life.

Christmas Eve is a special time at Daniel’s home with his good friends, Yumi, a concertmaster and masterful violinist, Nathaniel, a longtime friend who works as a musical instrument and art fraud and theft agent, along with Trotsky, his temperamentally huge bulldog.

Amadeo Borlotti calls Jacobus asking if he can come over to talk with him. Amadeo repairs violins for school children. Why would his voice sound as if visiting with Jacobus is important? Why would he need to consult with Daniel?
The next day, Daniel is feeling guilty when he learns that Borlotti’s house has burnt down and Borlotti is missing.

Why? What has happened? Could Jacobus have prevented the loss of his home? Where is Borlotti?

Jacobus, Yumi, and Nathaniel begin to investigate while being thrown into a world they never knew existed.

Playing with Fire is the fifth Daniel Jacobus’ mystery following Devil’s Trill, Danse Macabre, Death and the Maiden, and Death and Transfiguration. Unlike the other four novels which all encircle one musical selection, Playing with Fire does not connect to any one piece of music. This book educates the reader about the world of rare violins made by outstanding and legendary master such as Stradivarius while loosely based on the real-life crimes of Dietmar Machold.

Gerald Elias is the Musical Director of the Vivaldi Candlelight concert series, first violinist of the Abramyan String Quartet, Associate Concertmaster of the Utah Symphony since 1988, and an Adjunct Professor of Music at the University of Utah.

He previously played the violin for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Playing with Fire is a fast-paced novel continuing the story of Jacobus. The book can be a standalone without reading the previous books in the series. However, firmly believe that everyone would enjoy the book more if they have read the first novel, The Devil’s Trill to better understand the character relationships.

Playing with Fire is a thrilling journey into the world of exquisitely valuable violins interwoven into a enthralling mystery.