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About High Stakes

History, myth, music, and murder—and Michael Knight is in the middle

An authentic Stradivarius violin turns up in Romania. A Stradivarius is rare enough, but this one is even more special. It is thought to hold the code disclosing the location of a treasure hidden in the fifteenth century. The violin is steeped in haunting mystique: it is believed to have been hidden by Vlad Dracula, whose historic tyranny led to the fabrication of the myth of vampirism. Russian, Chinese, and Romanian gangs centered in Boston want the code and all of them are hot on the trail. Violence is their language—brutality, their technique.

And who is hired to see that the treasure lands in the rightful place? None other than Michael Knight with a little help from his senior law partner Lex Devlin and his crony, Billy Coyne, Boston’s deputy district attorney.

Michael uses the thin leverage of his knowledge about the violin to keep each of the three gang leaders at bay, while he follows the chain of historic clues from a violin shop in the Carpathian Mountains to a gangster-infested nightclub in Bucharest, to a university in Istanbul, and back to the gang headquarters of the three competing criminal organizations. Secrets from the past and present collide along the perilous shuttle between Boston and Romania. In the end, what is the righteous solution?


"John F. Dobbyn is a master storyteller, but a quality equally important to his fiction is that he writes from the heart. This author always digs to uncover the humanity of his characters and to find possibilities for redemption. There’s plenty of hard-driving action in a Michael Knight and Lex Devlin book, but when it’s all over, it’s the personal journeys of the characters that reverberate in readers’ minds. The series cries out for TV or movie adaptation." —Janet Hutchings, Editor-in-Chief, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

"This rapid pace adventure delivers equal quantities of action, history, secrets, and conspiracies. Definitely an entertaining romp." —Steve Berry, New York Times best-selling author

"Once again, John F. Dobbyn grounds thrilling action in a fascinating subject—in this case, a possible lost cultural treasure linked to the historical Dracula. Attorney Michael Knight relies on quick wits, strong friendships, and deep personal integrity in globe-hopping engagements with Russian and Chinese gangs. High Stakes is spellbinding from page one to the end." —Linda Landrigan, Editor-in-Chief of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

"John Dobbyn knows how to write a thriller, with intriguing characters, well-timed wit, and suspense that doesn't quit." —Lisa Scottoline, New York Times best-selling author

"Dobbyn offers no surprises, no wit, and no profound depth of feeling. This is for those who like action-packed escapist fiction, spiced with a dash of Dracula lore." —Publishers Weekly

"Dobbyn breathes fresh life into hoary thriller conventions, often with a touch of humor" —Booklist

"This is a very entertaining novel, full of local color equally in Boston, Romania, and Istanbul, where the author dwells lovingly, with the finesse of a gourmand, over the many meals the characters consume, while weaving an intriguing plot." —New York Journal of Books