You know the saying, "It ain't over till the fat lady sings"? Here's a story that really doesn't begin until the fat lady sings - and is murdered. Her singing wasn't that bad, was it?
You'll find out in "Death on the High C's,"* a romp through the world of a small-time English opera company with some major problems. Robert Barnard's 1977 mystery is the subject of today's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the full review by clicking here.
The Northern Opera Company, as it is called, is putting on a new production of Verdi's "Rigoletto," one of the most-frequently performed operas in the repertory - with good reason; the music is exquisite although the plot is pure mellerdrammer. Into the company comes a new singer, Gaylene Ffrench, who - almost immediately - manages to make enemies of just about everyone connected with the production. It comes as little surprise when she is murdered, but the police detective in charge of the case, Superintendent Nichols, believes there must be more to it than small provincial jealousies. A second murder convinces him that there is a lot more going on here than is immediately apparent - and, of course, he is proven right.
All this is handled with Barnard's characteristic humor - one reviewer called it a "quietly malicious sense of humor," which seems right on target. Barnard has a great deal of fun with the opera world and with these characters - and so will the reader. This was Barnard's second book - and, happily, he's still writing.
* - Yes, fellow English majors, I know - there shouldn't be an apostrophe in "C's." But that's the title of the book. So hate me.