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Symphony of Secrets by Sharon Hinck

Reviewed by Heather R. Hunt

"Hinck spins a wonderful story with both light-hearted high-jinks and darker character confrontations..."

In The Restorer series from NavPress, Sharon Hinck leads readers into a fantasy world where suburban moms can be transformed into sword-wielding heroines. In Symphony of Secrets from Bethany House, Hinck leads readers into the backstage world of the modern orchestra where single moms can make their dreams come true. Just which world is the more exotic and dangerous place to be is not entirely clear!

Single mom Amy Johnson is a prickly artist, whose Julliard-trained musical track took a sharp turn down the wrong road when she discovered she was unexpectedly expecting. After being abandoned by the baby's father, a fellow music student, Amy gives birth to a daughter, who she names Clara in honor of composer Clara Schumann. Over the next 15 years, mother and daughter make a musical life together while Amy continues to pursue a musical performance career.

Hinck finds a creative way to showcase Amy's frustrations with her life path by giving her an insatiable curiosity to uncover conspiracies all around her. Amy's an avid mystery reader, who finds nefarious motives for everyone from the neighborhood boys playing in the backyard to the waiters at a country club. Her own life is a mystery to her, so she makes mysteries out of everyone else's.

Amy's conspiracy shenanigans at first seem to only add color to her already artistically persnickety character, but they more than prepare her when a real mystery crops up at the Minneapolis Symphony, where she is on trial as second flutist. Her penchant for secret lives, however, does not help her with daughter, Clara, who at 15, is demanding more answers about her absent father. What secrets does Amy have about the ending of her Julliard career? And who's causing all the problems backstage at the Symphony?

Hinck spins a wonderful story with both light-hearted high-jinks and darker character confrontations that move the reader through a series of up and down moods in the same way that listening through the movements of a symphonic piece can bring audience members through emotional highs and lows. Add to this mix the steady drumbeat of spiritual awakening beginning in Amy's life, and you have a complete work of complex realism.

The open-ended yet hopeful conclusion will leave readers in a welcoming mood for a sequel but not too frustrated with Amy's current state. I recommend Sharon Hinck's Symphony of Secrets to readers who love music, family drama, mysteries without murders, and anyone who enjoys a clear and purposeful writing style.

Heather R. HuntHeather R. Hunt is a business editor in Connecticut. For fun she reads, writes, cheers on the Red Sox, and enjoys tennis and cycling. She also co-leads a local tea party and enjoys holding government officials and media outlets accountable. Check out her blogs, The View from Stonewater and Connecticut for Sarah Palin.