A Harvest of Ripe Figs
Esther "of the Singing Hands", as she's known, is a young music star with a Girl Next Door image. When her performance tour takes her to her home nation's capital city, her priceless violin is stolen from her room at the inn after the performance. Queen Shulamit, the nation's leader who considers crime-solving to be part of her royal duties, quickly starts an investigation. There are plenty of suspects: another lady violinist, the woman's noble patron, a man selling instruments, the innkeeper, and a street kid all had reasons to arouse the queen's suspicions.
Esther, distraught and emotionally vulnerable without her instrument, finds herself torn between her boyfriend from home who came touring with her and the instrument dealer, who definitely wants to be more than friends. Meanwhile, the queen juggles her search with investigating other local mysteries as well as raising the baby princess with her female partner. She must find the thief, and the violin, as well as get to the bottom of the illegal magic that was used.
About the Author
Shira Glassman was a finalist in the 2014 Golden Crown Literary Awards for The Second Mango and in the 2015 Bisexual Book Awards for Climbing the Date Palm. She lives in Florida with a butch labor activist and a tyrannical cat.
Sneak peak into the book
“That’s what happens when you travel,” Tzuriel replied genially. “Everything from my hometown’s drums to flutes from places so cold they don’t even take off their clothing to have babies.”
She giggled at the unexpected image. “How do they keep their fingers from getting too stiff to play?”
“They have special gloves with no fingertips,” he explained. “I have some in my stock, but I don’t show them when I’m here in civilized countries.” He rummaged around in a small trunk that she hadn’t noticed earlier. “What do you think?”
“They’re beautiful!” With wide eyes and a slightly opened mouth, she beheld the intricate embroidery of the fine textiles. “May I?” When he nodded, she felt the fabric between her fingers. “That’s as soft as rabbits!”
“It comes from the musk ox,” he told her.
“It’s a big hairy beast, like a cow—but fatter and hairier. And softer, and warmer.” Then he chuckled. “Like me, maybe.”
“This is so soft,” Esther prattled.
Stop it, she said to herself. Just because Eli said the way you were acting about your violin proved that you needed some distance from it doesn’t mean you have the right to go embarrassing him like this. Look at how much he cares about you. He’s traveling with you when he could be at home, getting ready for his law exams. He’s worried about you.
“Have you ever seen one of these before?” Tzuriel took the gloves from her with one hand, and in the other, he held up a gourd with some thin strips of metal stretched across its opening.
Esther shook her head. “What is it?”
“The two names I know for it are mbira and kalimba. Listen.” Tzuriel put the gloves down and lifted his other hand to the little gourd. He cupped it in his hands and began to play the keys with his thumbs.
She watched him, captivated. What he played was innocent, yet haunting—rhythmic, yet soothing. It stilled the whirring of her tormented mind. Before long, she felt the stinging of tears in her eyes.
She didn’t even realize she was reaching out for it until he stopped playing, mid-melody, and held it out to her.
A welcoming smile on his face echoed his motions. “Try it.” From anyone else, those words might have been a command, but here, it was consent. He was consenting to what she realized she was asking with her outstretched hand—and probably with her face too.
With her thumbs on the metal keys, she plucked a few notes. “Oh! They alternate,” she realized out loud.
“Yes, to make it easier to play quickly.”
More notes poured from her hands. She felt him close by and she was scared, but she held in her hands the source of her own strength, something with which she could create beautiful sounds. “It’s so new and different.”
“Sometimes people need a little different.”