cover image A Fatal First Night

A Fatal First Night

Kathleen Marple Kalb. Kensington, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4967-2724-4

On the opening night of a new opera, The Princes in the Tower, in Kalb’s sprightly sequel to 2020’s A Fatal First Night, likewise set in 1899 Manhattan, opera singer Ella Shand finds basso Albert Reuter, who’s playing Richard III, in his dressing room with a bloody knife in his hand, standing over the body of Florian Lutz. Florian’s wife, Albert’s sister, was murdered two years earlier in Cleveland. Did Albert kill Florian to avenge his sister? Ella is unconvinced of Albert’s guilt, so she asks her friend and suitor, Gilbert Saint Aubyn, Duke of Leith, who has come to New York on a mysterious errand, to review the evidence. The appealing, independent Ella, who’s torn between her attraction to the duke and her love for a career she’s determined not to give up, has plenty of would-be male protectors, but she handles their Victorian attitudes with amusement rather than annoyance. The mystery is a bit of an afterthought, but Kalb has clearly done her research, giving the reader a fascinating glimpse into the life of a fin de siècle opera singer. Cozy fans will enjoy this one. Agent: Eric Myers, Myers Literary Management. (May)