The Case of the Orphaned Bassoonists

Barbara Wilson, Author Seal Press (CA) $12.95 (193p) ISBN 978-1-58005-046-3
The present-day international classical-music scene meets Vivaldi-era Venice in Wilson's third winning tale featuring translator and amateur detective Cassandra Reilly. The jet-setting lesbian heroine obligingly sets off for Italy to help her friend, bassoonist Nicky Gibbons, who stands accused of stealing a priceless antique bassoon during a symposium on women musicians of Vivaldi's time. Symposium organizer Alfredo Sandretti insists that Nicky stole the valuable bassoon, but whether she did or didn't soon becomes irrelevant, because as Cassandra slyly interviews each of the possible suspects, she learns that they're all harboring their own secrets (or, as she later discovers, are gifted liars). Mousy oboist Anna de Hoog is in town to play in the concert, in spite of her lack of virtuosity; Gunther, a German with a promiscuous mistress, is constantly making frantic calls to his alleged grandmother; and Vivaldi expert Andrew McManus seems more intent on garnering the attention of Sandretti's son, Marco, than anything else. Running concurrently with the stolen instrument story is the more intriguing, yet lamentably not as fully developed, mystery of the orphaned bassoonists of Baroque Venice. While this novel lacks a unifying thread, Wilson nonetheless has marvelously depicted Venice and its history, introducing modern (if nutty) women personalities that should please feminist readers. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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