Readalong: The Violin Conspiracy

January 2024 Readalong

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

What better way to start a new year, than with a new readalong? For our January 2024 readalong, we will be buddy reading The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb.

This contemporary novel is a mix of fiction and mystery, with compelling characters, family drama, and a piercing portrait of adversity and prejudice. It’s a beautifully woven book that follows the story of a Black classical musician whose family heirloom violin is stolen on the eve of the most prestigious classical music competition in the world. The Violin Conspiracy is a fantastic debut, ripe for book club discussion, and will fit numerous prompts on your 52 Book Club 2024 challenge!

How does this buddy read work?

A readalong means that we read the same book together at the same time. There is a variety of ways to do this. For January, we will be pairing up in small groups for buddy reads. Here’s what it will look like:

1) Sign up for the readalong at the bottom of this page. The deadline to sign up is December 31, 2023, so we recommend signing up as soon as you decide to participate.

2) When you sign up, you will be given the option of whether you’d like to discuss this book via Facebook or Instagram chat. Please pick one. You will be paired with buddies with a similar preference.

3) During the first week of January, you will receive an e-mail with the names of your reading buddies. You will be partnered with six or seven other 52 Book Club members. Once you’ve received your buddies, it’s up to you all to reach out to each other and set up a group chat on your preferred social site.

4) With your buddies, decide on a reading and discussion schedule. We’ll send a suggested reading schedule, as well as a guide with discussion questions to get you started, but it is up to you and your buddies to pick what works best for your group! This discussion will be self-led. To get the most out of this buddy read, we encourage you to actively discuss the book and get to know your buddies!

5) Those who miss the December 31 deadline will not be paired in small groups, but can still participate by chatting on our 2024 readalong Discord server. Those in buddy groups are also welcome to chat on Discord (as an optional add-on, if you wish) but we encourage you to prioritize discussion with your reading buddies first.

6) Over the course of January, read, discuss, and have fun with your new bookish buddies!

The Violin Conspiracy will fit the following 2024 prompts: #4. Lowercase letters on the spine, #9. A character-driven novel, #14. A grieving character, #19. A buddy read, #24. A cover without people on it (you can see that version of the cover on our YouTube channel, here), #28. A yellow spine, #41. A sticker on the cover (GMA book club version), #44. Includes a wedding, #50. A musical instrument on the cover.

Suggested Reading Schedule:

Each buddy group will decide on a reading schedule that works for their group as a whole. We’ve included a suggested reading schedule below but you’re welcome to adjust the dates as best fits your group. (Take into consideration variations in reading speeds etc.)The Violin Conspiracy is naturally broken into seven parts.

You may decide to read one part every day for a set week and discuss daily as you read, or group the parts together. (For example: “Read and discuss part 1 on January 21, part 2 on the 22, part 3 on the 23, etc.” Or, you may choose something more flexible like, “Let’s read parts 1 and 2 by Thursday and discuss then!”) Feel free to use this reading schedule to help start — but ultimately, this readalong is self-led and you and your reading buddies can be as flexible and creative as you like with it!

January 19 — Part 1: Chapters 1-5
January 20
— Part 2: Chapters 6-9
January 21
— Part 3: Chapters 10-13
January 22
— Part 4: Chapters 14-19
January 23
— Part 5: Chapters 20-26
January 24 — Part 6: Chapters 27-31
January 25 — Part 7: Chapters 32- Epilogue
January 26 — Final Thoughts + Author’s Note


The deadline for signing up for this January buddy read is December 31, 2023, at 5 pm PT. Those who sign up for the readalong after this deadline will not be paired in a buddy group. However, you can still see discussion questions and share your thoughts on the above sections by joining the Discord group and chatting here.

The Violin Conspiracy was originally published in February 2022 and should be available at your local library, bookstore, Audible, or anywhere you usually source your reads. Since this popular book was published almost two years ago, we know that some of the bookworms at The 52 Book Club have already read it. You’re welcome to join us for a re-read or stay tuned for our next, new-release readalong happening in April 2024.

Please keep in mind that The 52 Book Club is a global group of readers who have a variety of experiences, reading preferences, and reading styles. We may disagree with someone’s critique or thoughts on a book, but we can always do so in a respectful way — and hopefully, make some new book friends from around the world at the same time!

Book Blurb:

Ray McMillian is a Black classical musician on the rise—undeterred by the pressure and prejudice of the classical music world—when a shocking theft sends him on a desperate quest to recover his great-great-grandfather’s heirloom violin on the eve of the most prestigious musical competition in the world.

Growing up Black in rural North Carolina, Ray McMillian’s life is already mapped out. But Ray has a gift and a dream—he’s determined to become a world-class professional violinist, and nothing will stand in his way. Not his mother, who wants him to stop making such a racket; not the fact that he can’t afford a violin suitable to his talents; not even the racism inherent in the world of classical music. 

When he discovers that his beat-up, family fiddle is actually a priceless Stradivarius, all his dreams suddenly seem within reach, and together, Ray and his violin take the world by storm. But on the eve of the renowned and cutthroat Tchaikovsky Competition—the Olympics of classical music—the violin is stolen, a ransom note for five million dollars left in its place. Without it, Ray feels like he’s lost a piece of himself. As the competition approaches, Ray must not only reclaim his precious violin, but prove to himself—and the world—that no matter the outcome, there has always been a truly great musician within him.

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