Just finished Roz Southey‘s delightful debut, ‘Broken Harmony.’ It’s a mystery tale set amongst the musicians of 18th-century Newcastle upon Tyne. Naturally, these purveyors of artistic joy are riddled with rivalries and petty jealousies, and before long their clashes lead to more sinister goings-on. To add to their troubles, the whole town is whispering with spirits who are in a position to know useful information but are annoyingly reluctant to part with it.
Anyone remotely involved with the making of music will recognise the characters with a wry smile – particularly the amateur ‘who bit his lip in concentration as he carefully played every note just fractionally flat.’ Hm. I fear I have not only met, but also been that person on several occasions…
There’s a familiar tension between the underpaid and under-appreciated professional who finally snaps, ‘You can’t even read music!’ and the enthusiast who retorts, ‘Who needs to? Music’s in your hands, and in your head, and in your heart!’
Despite the freshness of the musicians’ plights, the historical setting is utterly convincing – thus proving the value of ‘write what you know’ – Southey is a musicologist and the book is set in her local area.
There’s a fine twist at the end, too. I didn’t see it coming, but it’s well set up and makes perfect sense of what has gone before.
Roz Southey is one of the authors who will be appearing at Crimefest in a couple of weeks’ time.