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Cruel Music
A Baroque Mystery, # 3

by Beverle Graves Myers

      Castrato singer Tito Amato is looking forward to a well-earned rest with his family after a spell spent performing in Dresden. But the police arrest him, instead, and he learns that his merchant brother Alessandro is in prison for a capital crime. To secure his brotherís freedom Tito has to go to Rome to perform for Cardinal Fabiani who loves music and wishes his own private singer. It is time Venice provided another pope, as the current one is dying, so Tito needs to spy on the powerful Fabiani to make sure that he backs the Venetian candidate. This will ensure that Venice gets a chance to restore itself to former glory. But the first task Tito is given is to help dispose of a body!

Well done, Ms Myers, for not only setting the book in an underused period and in a place that does not generally feature in this type of novel, but for providing readers with an unusual and likeable protagonist who makes an excellent narrator. This is the third novel in the series, which seems to get better with every book, and the longest to date. Ms Myers manages to fill the pages not only with incidents pertaining to the murder, but with historical detail, lively characters and another installment of Titoís private life and love.

This is one of those good-humored books that fall neatly between cozy and gritty, balancing realism with adventure as Tito and Gussie make the most of the hands that fate has dealt them and pitch in with gusto. Highly readable.

The Book

Poisoned Pen Press
March 2008
1590582306 / 978-1590582305
Historical Crime / 1740, Venice and Rome, Italy
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008