Broken Chord, A Music Row Mystery, Wordcrafts Press, an e-book copyright and written by Alice A. Jackson.
Plot: Sarah Ann Boswell, divorced after many years of marriage and children by prominent lawyer husband, attempts suicide by taking an overdose of pills. She is discovered, hospitalized and survives, interestingly while almost constantly attended by her Prayer Group – three married women and her next door once married male friend – that had been inseparable since early childhood. Because of hospital overcrowding, she has a roommate, Jill Edgerton who is recovering from a gall bladder removal. Jill is from Boston and has moved to Nashville and established a country music talent agency. Jill recognizes latent ability in Sarah Ann, offers her a job that soon becomes a partnership as her business acumen rapidly develops. A personal agent discovers Jared Parson from Jacksonville TX, introduces them, they discover him to be exactly the type of individual who rapidly rises to the top of the charts. Within three years he is the dominant figure in Country and Western and they are the most prominent agency on Music Row. Unfortunately, Jared has a hidden side that gradually begins to show itself with his wife, who became pregnant while they were very young and still in TX and other activities notable to his huge estate caretaker and a few others. The gradual development of the agency and interrelationships comprises most of the first half of the story where Jill, who as most knowledgeable accompanies Jared on tours, while Sarah Ann handles all company business, local shows, new talent interviews and the myriad of accompanying details. Suddenly a murder occurs and the entire situation faces the development of devastating consequences that bring many additional characters into the mix, including Sara Ann’s former husband John and of course heavy participation by her Prayer Group. The perpetrator remains somewhat hidden for a considerable length of time but ultimately emerges and the books terminates interestingly.
Discussion: The author has set forth first an enjoyable overview about development and activities of a musical talent agency in the ‘Home of Country Music’. Second, she has gradually morphed the story into a murder mystery peopled with interesting characters interrelating in numerous engaging ways. Some of the relationships, thoughts and actions provided may offer a few questions for readers who have little understanding of ‘the basic ways of the old south’. However, these should not interfere with one’s enjoyment. For those with this comprehension, an additional element of charm will be added. One small caveat should be offered in that the story begins rather slowly before building into its strength.
4* Enjoyable overview of country music agency work; -1 early lack of pace.