Famous for her vampire tales, Anne Rice has written a new novel in which the elixir of life isn't blood but, rather, music. At the center of Violin is a New Orleans woman named Triana, who has had more than her share of family tragedy. On the night after her second husband dies of AIDS, a mysterious violinist appears on the street outside her window to serenade her, and before long he reveals himself as the ghost of a long-dead Russian musician. Triana's spirit-maestro whisks her away, first to Vienna during Beethoven's era, then to Paganini's Venice and later to Brazil. Meanwhile, his stirring performances help her discover her musical gifts and make peace with her own restless ghosts.
Rice's many fans will find in Violin much of what they admire in her work: the ornate language, the dramatic emotions, the promise of a demonically sexy life after death—a fictional symphony that always seems to be played at a louder volume and higher pitch than the familiar sounds of our workaday world. (Knopf, $25.95)