As the New Magini String Quartet prepares for a performance of Schubert's masterpiece "Death and the Maiden," which it hopes will resuscitate its faltering career, two events occur. First, its former second violinist, Crispin Short, who had sued the ensemble when he was fired and publicly embarrassed, issues an ultimatum: reinstate me or I'll destroy you. Second, the manipulative first violinist, Aaron Kortovsky, is unaccountably missing in action and no one knows his whereabouts, not even his estranged wife and the violist of the quartet, sensuous Annika Haagen. The remaining quartet members, second violinist Yumi Shinagawa, a former student of renowned blind pedagogue and amateur sleuth Daniel Jacobus, and cellist Pravda Lenskaya, the only remaining musician of the original Magini Quartet, are caught in a deadly limbo as the hour of the performance approaches. It is left up to Jacobus, with his old friend Nathaniel Williams, and his new companion Trotsky, the bulldog, to unravel the puzzle as one by one the musicians of the quartet mysteriously vanish.
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