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A Chorus of Detectives by Barbara Paul
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A Chorus of Detectives (1987)

by Barbara Paul

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Read all the way through, but was a bit disappointed.
Hesitate to give anything a 1 star, but this is not one I would read again.
Read in 2005. ( )
  CasaBooks | Apr 28, 2013 |
This is the third in a set of three books set in the Metropolitan Opera in the "Golden Age," but you won't miss anything if you haven't read the prior two books--this can stand alone. The books aren't standouts stylistically nor are they a whodunnit with a jaw-dropping solution worthy of a Christie. In those respects the books are quite ordinary, and it wouldn't occur to me to list Paul's Opera Mysteries as the best of mystery fiction. But they are fun, and have a secure place on my bookshelves. I'm sure a great deal of the reason I love them is that I am an Opera fan, and can't help but be greatly entertained by a mystery set in the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in the early 20th century that so vividly renders its time and place. The first book, which I haven't read, was centered on Caruso as detective, and the second was told by American opera soprano Geraldine Farrar. In this mystery, where members of the Metropolitan Opera chorus are being murdered one by one, the young Rosa Ponselle is added to the mix of characters.

I liked this novel less than the previous book, which was told first person, while this is third person with multiple perspectives. Even though she's present and prominent as a character, I missed Farrar's gossipy voice which leant so much humor to Prima Donna at Large. This is also not as light-hearted as the previous book. Set in 1920, the first World War has been over for two years, but "resentments and hard feelings" from it still linger in the international company and the careers of Caruso and Farrar are close to their end--this outing has a more melancholy tone as a result. But this is still a very entertaining mystery, particularly if you're an opera fan. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Aug 24, 2011 |
This takes place during the so-called "Golden Era" of the Metropolitan Opera House, when stars like Enrico Caruso and Geraldine Ferrar were singing. Tensions are running high among the multinational member of the cast after World War I. Members of the chorus die in apparent accidents and a suicide, which is upsetting enough, but then a death occurs that can only be a murder.

I find it fascinating as a look at the era, but somewhat mediocre as a mystery. It is intended as a rather comic mystery, with the opera stars earnestly bumbling around playing at being detectives, but I got a bit tired of them. It is quite well done as a historical novel, and I recommend it to those who would be interested in it for that reason, rather than as a mystery. ( )
  juglicerr | Oct 11, 2010 |
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Giulio Gatti-Casazza, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, was not in the habit of taking orders from scrub-ladies.
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Book description
Takes place in 1920.

Per dio!  Murder and mayhem at the Met!  Enrico Caruso and Geraldine Farrar are facing their most perplexing and menacing killer to date.  The colorful Caruso and the world's greatest soprano must find the madman who is systematically eliminating members of the chorus.

During a performance of Samson and Delilah a female chorister is struck dead by a falling urn.  The very next day a tenor is "accidentally" killed when he falls through a trapdoor that is always bolted closed.  At first, the member of the opera are inclined to think that the deaths are mere accidents, although Caruso believes una maleziona--a curse--is responsible.

Caruso is forced to abandon any such illusions when a third victim is found in the wings with a knife in her heart and yet another falls prey to poison, hidden in an innocent-looking Italian sausage.

Though the chorus is dwindling rapidly, the detective force gains new members daily.  All of the soloissts want to be in on the act of catching the killer--the problem is, they all disagree on just who is doing the killing.  The one thing that they agree on, however, is that they'd best find the murderer as soon as possible, before the chorus' ensemble becomes a solo performance.

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The stars of the Metropolitan Opera search for a crazed killer who plans to bring the company down They find the tenor dangling from a water pipe, hanging by his own suspenders. His corpse is still warm. Naturally, the opera's manager doesn't stop the production. A dead chorus tenor isn't enough to close them down, and the show must go on. But there are 139 singers left in the chorus-and someone intends to kill them all. Poisoning, strangling, and rigged trapdoors are just a few of the methods at the killer's disposal. The opera posts guards backstage, but the slayings continue, forcing the Met's two fading stars, Enrico Caruso and Geraldine Farrar, to band together and save the opera they love so much. A Chorus of Detectives is the 3rd book in the Opera Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.… (more)

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