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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Substitute Soloist by DR Ransdell is the fourth book in the Andy Veracruz Mystery series. Andy has a new job and he's certain he may have gotten in over his head. He's faked his way through several passages and the other musicians' instruments cost more than he makes. As if this wasn't bad enough, during his first concert a board member dies and a violinist takes off. Everyone talks about Liza being difficult but Andy has a hard time believing she'd commit murder. So when Andy is asked to locate her, he finds himself involved in another mystery that may get him in over his head.
The mystery revolves around Liza and her mysterious background which is the focus of Andy's investigation as he delves into finding answers. Every new layer he opens up gives another aspect of Liza's life which includes the connection between the murder and her past. Andy and the conductor Moraes have an interesting relationship as he's the reason Andy is traveling to various places in pursuit of Liza. Their dynamic is filled with humor but also a real connection as the two bond throughout the story. Andy's agreement to continuously help Moraes creates friction with Rachel who doesn't necessarily approve. Their relationship is rooted in a deep bond of friendship as they're completely honest with each other about their feelings while also giving a great deal of support.
One facet of the story revolves around Andy feeling a little out of place among the other musicians as their instruments are expensive and he doesn't quite know all the music. This isn't his only problem for long when Andy's drawn into investigating a murder. DR Ransdell writes a layered mystery with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing but also some heart as Andy gets to know various people tied to the mystery and comes to understand their roles. Ransdell offers a range of interesting characters and dynamics as Andy's latest mystery takes him on this new journey. Substitute Soloist is an ideal read for those who love complex mysteries, musical connections, and interesting characters.