The Devil in Music

Kate Ross, Author
Kate Ross, Author Viking Books $24.95 (447p) ISBN 978-0-670-86359-4
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Paperback - 537 pages - 978-1-937384-71-5
Open Ebook - 408 pages - 978-1-937384-72-2
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-14-026364-0
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In her fourth novel featuring the sharp-witted English dandy Julian Kestrel, Ross (Whom the Gods Love) adeptly fashions a mystery from lethal family secrets, political strife, passion for great music and an opulent early 19th-century setting. While in Geneva on a continental holiday, Kestrel learns that the death of Marchese Lodovico Malvezzi in Italy some four years earlier was actually a homicide. The chief suspect is Orfeo, a talented young English singer whom Lodovico had been secretly grooming for a brilliant opera career and who disappeared the night of the murder. Kestrel, accompanied by his valet, Dipper (an ex-pickpocket), and his irascible friend Dr. Duncan MacGregor, travels to Milan, in the heart of Austrian-controlled northern Italy. He offers his services to Marchesa Beatrice Malvezzi, the beautiful and quite possibly dangerous young widow, who introduces him to Milanese society. Especially adroit are Ross's scenes at La Scala, where the operas performed on stage are mere backdrops to the social intrigues occurring in the private boxes of the aristocracy. Suspects abound, and Kestrel's principal adversaries are worthy foes. Gaston de la Marque, his rival for the Marchesa's attentions, is a clever and piquant Frenchman whose verbal duels with Kestrel are knife-edged. Commissario Grimani of the Milanese police is also a formidable obstacle, more concerned with a quick solution to impress his Austrian superiors than with finding the real murderer. The large cast, intricate plot and historical setting are all of operatic proportions, yet Ross never loses control of her story. The result is an elegant and finely tuned performance. Author tour. (Sept.)
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