Venice, 1734. Castrato soprano Tito Amato has let fame go to his head. Neglecting his vocal practice for dubious pleasures, Tito finds himself demoted to secondary roles and overshadowed by a visiting star. When the murder of scene painter Luca Cavalieri threatens to close the opera house, Tito jumps at the chance to regain his chance to reclaim his status by finding the killer.
The hunt for the person who wears the mask of Palantinus carries Tito and Augustus "Gussie" Rumbolt, an Englishman making his Grand Tour, into the treacherous depths of the city dedicated to masquerade and pleasure and reveals many facets of its multiple religious faiths.
Starred Review. Set in 1730s Venice, Myers's second baroque mystery skillfully guides the reader past the dangers of fame to the nature of music and love, fulfilling the promise of her well-received debut, Interrupted Aria (2004). At the Teatro San Marco, soprano castrato Tito Amato is struggling with his demotion to lesser roles when the strangled body of Luca Cavalieri, a talented if unscrupulous set designer and painter, turns up in a canal. Suspicion points to his lover, Liya Del'Vecchio, a "Jewess" whom Tito falls for on sight. When the opera company director asks Tito to investigate Cavalieri's murder, he's only too glad to comply. Accompanied by Augustus "Gussie" Rumbolt, a younger son of English nobility on the grand tour, he explores the first European ghetto. All foreigners are suspect and restricted in the fading sun of Venetian trading pre-eminence, but only Jews are locked up at night in the old ironworks. When a rabble-rousing, pseudonymous pamphlet accuses Liya's cousin of the murder and poisoning wells, Tito gets mixed up in necromancy and secret societies as well. Myers provides an insightful and tender look at how those who are different--castrati, women, Jews--were treated at the time, as well as a wonderful view of elegant, decadent, nothing-is-as-it-seems-from-behind-the-masque Venice.
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Poisoned Pen Press
September 29, 2006
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