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The Iron Tongue of Midnight : A Baroque Mystery
In September of 1740, singer Tito Amato receives a curious invitation. The German composer Karl Johann Weber is rehearsing a new opera at an isolated villa nestled in the hills of the Venetian mainland. Would Tito accept the lead role? Puzzled by the air of secrecy that enshrouds the production, but attracted by a generous fee, Tito agrees. Artist Gussie Rumbolt, Titos friend and brother-in-law, has also been summoned to paint scenes of the estates grape harvest. The two men find the countryside awash with the golden hues of autumn, but the bucolic mood quickly turns menacing when a notorious figure from Titos past turns up at the villa. That night, at the stroke of twelve, a soprano stumbles over a stranger who has been beaten to death with the clock pendulum. With the local constable away on a boar hunt, the midnight murderer strikes with impunity, raising terror to a fevered crescendo. Ever faithful to the ideals of truth and justice, Tito pursues his own quest for answersa quest that leads straight into the painful secrets of his heart and beyond. The Iron Tongue of Midnight is the fourth novel in Myers Baroque Mystery series. It follows Cruel Music.
In Myers's agreeable fourth mystery to feature 18th-century Venetian castrato Tito Amato (after 2006's Cruel Music), Tito has barely settled in at a country villa, where he's participating in a private performance commissioned by a wealthy opera lover, when a stranger is found murdered in the villa's hallway. To his further astonishment, one of the singers gathered there, under a false identity, is his sister, Grisella, who left the family years before and for whom his brother, Alessandro, is just then searching in Constantinople. Tito attempts to solve the murder and uncover his sister's real story amid musical rehearsals, regular epistles from Alessandro and more deaths. The book's diction and attitudes have a contemporary rather than a historical ring, and Alessandro's unrealistically prompt and well-dramatized letters are an obvious fictional contrivance. Still, Tito proves himself a lively narrator, and fans of cozier period puzzles and Italian opera will enjoy his company as well as the book's appealingly bucolic, autumnal setting. (Mar.)
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Poisoned Pen Press
August 31, 2009
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