by Beverle Graves Myers, © 2003, Poisoned Pen Press, 2005 trade paper, the 1st Tito Amato mystery
the 45th in my review series of “forgotten” books
I bought this this thin trade mystery about the 1731 Venice opera scene while we were attending Left Coast Crime in Denver. I may have heard the author on a panel or perhaps I just noticed the book in the book room, I can’t recall now. After spending it’s time on the shelf I wanted something quick and different and plucked it from the TBR shelves.
Tito Amato has returned to Venice after years of voice training at an academy in Naples, where he had been sent after becoming a castrati. He has been hired by one of the leading opera theatres as a singer, and he and his fellow singer Felice have arrived the day before rehearsals are to begin. Felice will not be singing, his voice has “thickened” and is now unreliable, he will be looking for a job as a musician. Tito’s homecoming is less warm than he would have liked, his older sister is delighted to see him, but his father is cold and distant and the household is upset by the “fits” Tito’s 13 year-old younger sister started having several months before. Tito’s father is a music teacher at one of Venice’s music academies and makes a good salary, though the household seems very poor.
A few days after rehearsals begin, the female lead is poisoned and dies within minutes. Felice is accused of the crime and goes to prison to await the swift, fatal justice of the Inquisitors. Tito is sure his friend did not commit the crime and begins to question everyone in the theatre to try and find the true killer.
Venice is nicely portrayed in this first novel by Myers. While the plot is a little thin, the characterization is nicely done. This was a quick read, I saw many of the turning points coming far before the author revealed them. Those may be minor quibbles for the reader who enjoys this kind of mystery, I did and will look for the next in the series.
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