From Publishers Weekly
Myers's third mystery to feature soprano Tito Amato, a renowned castrato in 18th-century Italy, gets off to a slow start, but the pace soon picks up. Tito finds himself in Rome, singing in the house of Cardinal Lorenzo Fabiani. Chez Fabiani is abuzz with papal politics—Pope Clement XII's on his deathbed, and the two men most likely to replace him need Fabiani's support if they are to prevail. When Fabiani's mother's maid turns up strangled in Fabiani's garden, Fabiani covers up the crime, but Tito, worried he'll be falsely implicated should the corpse come to light, decides to get to the bottom of things. His investigation leads him into fascinating Roman subcultures—communities of goddess worshipers, who practice ancient paganism right under the church's nose, and church leaders who are more interested in natural science than theology. Myers (Interrupted Aria
) litters the book with coy references to the castrato's surprising sex life, but leaves the details to the reader's imagination. (Sept.)
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Eighteenth-century Rome provides a lush yet sinister atmosphere for a mystery that draws together two parallel worlds within the Eternal City: the castrati, the male opera singers who were physically altered in boyhood to preserve their heavenly singing power, and the Holy See, which, as this story opens, is experiencing political shifting as the old pope is soon to expire and candidates vie to succeed him. Tito Amato, a famous Venetian opera singer, is forced by a powerful Venetian senator to decamp to Rome to become the house singer to a highly influential cardinal, Lorenzo Fabiana, who can pretty much control the choice of who is to be the next pope. But Tito's real mission is to spy on the goings-on in the Holy See and help advance a Venetian candidate for the papal throne. Naturally, murder happens, and the result is a rich, full story even non-mystery-reading opera lovers will respond to. Interesting to read alongside Anne Rice's compelling nonmystery novel about the castrati, Cry to Heaven
(1982). Brad HooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved