This has it all really. A complex historical mystery set in magical Venice.
Castrati, feuding opera houses, rumour and slander, intrigue, deception and murder, and of course, action via gondolas.
Teatro San Marco, Venice's premier opera house is failing.
Singers and musicians have been poached by a rival company. Now that competitor is looking to steal away the official Venetian patronage that The Teatro enjoys.
As a counter tactic and a last bold move Maestro Torani, Venice's most revered opera director, is persuaded by Tito Amato, himself a Castrato, to stage a new production by a Venetian, The False Duke. A production that fittingly echoes reminders of Venice's renowned son Vivaldi.
Looking to bring something different to the performance Tito goes to Milan to entice a Castrato, Angeletto, to star in the performance. Rumours and gossip however are already proclaiming that the Castrato is really a woman.
Disaster strikes when, Maestro Torani, Tito's beloved mentor and friend, is murdered during a musical soirée held at the palazzo of The Savio alla Cultura, Signor Arcangelo Passoni, a member of the Doge's inner council. Circumstances have Tito as the main suspect.
As I moved further into Tito's story, my interest was well and truly claimed. I was fascinated by the places, the descriptions of Venice and the people met.
There are some excellent lines. I was struck by Tito and his manservant Benito's discussion about motives for Torani's death, 'Murder is much like the opera--it hinges on life's great passions: love, hate, envy, revenge.' (I'm sure there is a clue here if only I could see it. I nod my head at this accumulated drop of wisdom) Of course, as with anything, all is referred back through 'The Opera!'
As I came to know Tito more, I came to appreciate the superb gift he is to the storyline and the reader.
A NetGalley ARC