The Iron Tongue of Midnight

The Iron Tongue of Midnight by Beverle Graves Myers.  Although there are several HM series set in the world of theater, such as Margaret Frazer’s featuring Joliffe and the traveling players and Edward Marston’s featuring Nicholas Bracewell and Lord Westfield’s Men, this is only one I know of with an operatic theme (see update below).  Our hero is Tito Amato, a castrato of some renown in the Venetian opera world of the mid-1700s with a complicated family life and a knack for solving mysteries.  The fourth book in the series finds Tito and his brother-in-law, the English artist Gussie Rumbolt, on their way to a country estate where Tito will join rehearsals for a new production sponsored by the socially ambitious mistress of the house and Gussie will paint scenes of the countryside for the master.  Almost immediately trouble arises as Tito discovers someone from his past using a false identity is also a member of the opera’s cast and later that night an unknown man is found dead in the hallway outside the guests’ rooms.  Myers cleverly uses letters from Tito’s brother based in Constantinople to create a secondary stream of clues which give readers of the series more insight into Tito’s family history, but only makes the current situation murkier.  As additional murders occur, Tito’s loyalties to family, truth and justice are tested as are his detective skills.  Although this volume does not have the same tension level that the first Tito story had, its plot is complex, but not unbelievable; the violence is not too bloody, and the country setting is a nice break from the canals and plazas of Venice.

While doing research for another post, I discovered that Barbara Paul wrote a short series set at New York City’s Metropolitan during the “Golden Age of Opera” in the early 20th century with tenor Enrico Caruso as the lead investigator.


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