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Cruel Music
The Third Baroque Mystery

by Beverle Graves Myers

      Five years after the events in Painted Veil (also reviewed on, castrati singer Tito Amato has gone from being just a local star to a European sensation. Someone who can pick and choose where and when he will sing. Until now. Returning home to Venice from an exhausting stay in Germany, he is unwillingly caught up in papal politics. Venetian State Inquisitor Montorio has selected Tito for a key role in his plans to set up his brother, Cardinal Montorio, as successor to the dying Pope Clement XII. Tito is to be sent as a gift - a pet nightingale on call- to the music-worshiping Cardinal Fabiani in Rome. Fabiani will control the election, and Titoís real assignment is to influence and spy on him. Tito, of course, wants nothing to do with this, but Montorio has arrested Titoís brother, Alessandro, and is holding his life hostage to Titoís co-operation. Upon arriving in Rome, Tito finds his assignment even more difficult than he imagined. But thatís only the beginning of his problems. Fabiani entangles him in the murder of a beautiful young maid, a figure from Titoís past returns to complicate his life, and the plot to seize the papacy is only one of the secrets he must deal with. Suddenly itís not just Alessandroís future thatís at stake.

I love this series. One reason is that while it has the continuity of a series, each book is very different, with none of the tired, "same old story with just a few new names" feel of†some other series. And the characters really grow and change, making them feel like real people you know and care about. The stories are as full of action, life, and bravura style as the Baroque world of music they center around, with depth, smoothly readable writing, and a charming hero. Add in a solid grasp of the musical and historical backgrounds they inhabit, with the author having the trick of passing on that knowledge without its interfering with the storytelling, and you have some out of the ordinary entertainment for the reader.† Highly recommended.

The Book

Poisoned Pen Press
September 2006
Historical Mystery [Venice and Rome, Italy 1740]
More at
NOTE: Some sexual references but nothing graphic

The Reviewer

Kim Malo
Reviewed 2006
© 2006