You may not know this, but some Italians like opera. My father sure did. I remember with him at the Cincinnati Zoo back when the opera performed there during summers. Dad sang along, although I'm not sure he added much more than the animals.
Not being musical, I never thought much about opera until my wife and I hosted dinner a few years ago for several Russian musicians. One of them made the comment that opera has it all - the music, the drama, the costumes, the lavish sets. That made me look at opera a whole new way, and love it.
Naturally, it eventually occurred to build a mystery novel plot around an opera. The motive occurred to me at once, and therefrom sprang a tale. The great Sherloockian Vincent Starrett wrote a fine short story called "Murder at the Opera" in 1934, so I considered that title already taken. My effort is called Death Masque. Here's a preview from the back of the book:
Small town controversies can be murder.When a newcomer to Erin, Ohio, proposes to tear down the historic Bijou Theater and erect in its place a boutique hotel, Sebastian McCabe adds “civic activist” to a long resume that already includes magician, mystery writer, professor, and amateur sleuth.With the strategic help of brother-in-law Jeff Cody, Mac launches a far-reaching campaign to “Save the Bijou.” The issue becomes highly political when three eccentric mayoral candidates stake out their positions – which one of them switches after a hefty campaign contribution.“The plot machinations of grand opera seem positively guileless by comparison!” Mac cries. Can homicide be far behind?The opera comparison is a natural one, for the new Erin Opera Company is staging an original work with a Mardi Gras theme. As murder strikes again, this time back stage, Sebastian McCabe becomes aware that many of the actors in this real-life drama are wearing metaphorical masks as well.Lynda Teal, Jeff’s wife, records much of Mac’s sleuthing for a podcast series, never imagining that the most dramatic audio of the concluding episode will come from the murderer.
The terrific cover produced by Brian Belanger over the weekend made me impatient to share this early look. The book will be available in late summer.