It’s easy to be overlooked in Gilded Age Manhattan, but the Ella Shane Opera Company’s latest premier manages to attract adoring crowds, rave reviews, and a killer who’s a real showstopper!
New York City, Fall 1899. Ahead-of-her-time coloratura mezzo Ella Shane has always known opening night to be a mess of missed cues and jittery nerves, especially when unveiling a new opera. Her production of The Princes in the Tower, based on the mysterious disappearance of Edward IV’s two sons during the Wars of the Roses in England, concludes its first performance to thunderous applause. It’s not until players take their bows that the worst kind of disaster strikes . . .
Flawless basso Albert Reuter is found lurched over a bloody body in his dressing room, seemingly taking inspiration from his role as the murderous Richard III. With a disturbing homicide case stealing the spotlight, Ella can’t be so certain Albert is the one who belongs behind bars . . .
Now, Ella must think on her feet while sorting out a wild series of puzzling mishaps and interlocking mysteries. Yet even when sided with her aristocratic beau, does this scrappy diva have the chops to upstage the true criminal, or will this be the last time she headlines a Broadway marquee?
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 si cle opera singer. Cozy fans will enjoy this one.