Sunday, March 19, 2023

*Review* Dissonance by Barbara Burt


Genre: Mystery
Published: January 31, 2023
Pages: 348

What deadly conflict lurks under the posh genteel facade of a summer classical music festival in a small town on the Maine Coast? Allegra Brewster, cellist and newly minted arts administrator, finds herself torn between keeping her job with the SummerFest Symphony and her loyalty to its musicians. The tension rises to a higher level when she discovers the death of a central person in the conflict. Many people with ill feelings toward the victim are potential murder suspects, but it is her father upon whom the police focus their attention.

Set at a fictional summer music festival in coastal Maine, Dissonance explores the struggle between a nonprofit arts board and its musicians, wealthy summer people and locals, a besotted suitor and the former girlfriend he betrayed, and a young woman’s faith in her own detective skills and the obvious fact that someone close to her committed murder.

Filled with music references (and accompanied by a Spotify playlist), Dissonance brings the reader into the world of a summer orchestra, its musicians and supporters, and the small town they occupy.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

This book lured me in with its cover, and for me, proved the saying that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Sadly it was a pretty big let-down for me, and not nearly as engaging as I was hoping it would be. There was a lot of focus on picking songs, for basically every activity described in the book, and they were almost always classical, which didn't feel very realistic to me, even with the main character being a cello player. I'm really supposed to believe that she never listens to the actual radio and jams out to Taylor Swift? 

Allie's relationships with the locals also felt very juvenile, which may have contributed to my disbelief about her music choices because I view classical music listeners as more sophisticated. Meanwhile Allie is breaking up with her boyfriend because her friend/surrogate mom tragically lost one of her children in a boating accident a couple years before, and it's hinted that he had some sort of involvement with that, but we never really find out what. 

It also felt like the book was almost over before the main crime even happened that led to the mystery Allie needed to solve. Which means solving the mystery felt rushed as well, and we were still focusing on picking just the right song for our thinking about whodunit. 

I really wanted to like this book, because I really want to like every book I read, but I just couldn't make it happen here unfortunately. Overall I give Dissonance 2.13 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

A musician, writer, sailor, editor, educator, nonprofit executive and board member, and long-time New Englander, Barbara Burt now lives in Georgia with her husband, two daughters, one granddaughter, and two dogs. You can reach her at

1 comment:

  1. I’m sorry this one didn’t work for you. It sounded so promising to me too!