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The Last Castrato by John Spencer Hill
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The Last Castrato (1995)

by John Spencer Hill

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"In the balance or reconciliation of opposite or discordant qualities consist the mystery and production of art and life." --Samuel Taylor Coleridge
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For my son Christopher who planted the germ and sustained its growth
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The corpse hung from the cross above the altar, its head slumped forward, its arms hooked crudely over the crosspiece like a pinioned fowl.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0373262299, Paperback)

"The corpse hung from the cross above the altar, its head slumped forward, its arms hooked crudely over the crosspiece like a pinioned fowl. The body was that of a man in his early fifties, slight and balding, with haughty chiselled features: a grotesque icon, a parody of sanctity. In place of thorns he wore the silk skullcap of a cardinal in the Roman Church, twisted askew as if he had dressed hastily, and the scarlet cassock of his office fell in folds to the polished toes of a pair of hand-tooled shoes." Cordelia Sinclair, a thirty-five-year-old American, who has arrived in Florence to write a thesis on the origins of Italian opera, knows nothing of this extraordinary event, nor does she have any inkling of the central role she is supposed to play in the series of bizarre murders that are rocking the ancient city. Robbery? A Mafia hit? An act of murderous revenge? To Detective Carlo Arbati, a published poet, the fact of the cardinal's severed vocal cords means he must confront the horrific rituals of a secret group of idealists who had tried, years earlier, to revive the glories of the Renaissance opera, where castrati had sung the soprano parts.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:42 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In Florence, Italy, a slasher is at work, cutting people's vocal chords. An opera singer revenging himself? Inspector Carlo Arbati investigates in the company of Cordelia Sinclair, an American student of 16th Century opera. A first novel.

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