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The Devil in Music (Julian Kestrel Mystery) Paperback – July 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Ross's historical mysteries featuring English dandy Julian Kestrel (e.g., Whom the Gods Love, LJ 4/1/95) have earned a loyal following. This fourth entry in the series moves Kestrel from his usual London haunts to Milan and moves Ross from trade paperback to hardcover status. While traveling the Continent with his friend, Dr. MacGregor, Kestrel reads of the recent uncovering of a four-year-old murder involving the aristocratic Malvezzi family and decides to try out his investigating skills once again. The victim was Lodovico Malvezzi, a Milanese marquis and famed music lover. Given his imperious manner, suspects are all to easy to find, especially among his family. Added to the mystery of his death are the disappearances of a talented musical protege of the marquis and a surly servant, various intrigues related to Italian politics, and rebellions. Kestrel is undaunted by these challenges but finds Malvezzi's beautiful young widow a dangerous distraction. While the plotting is not as tight as in previous novels, the final chapters are replete with enough revelations and twists to please Ross's fans and leave them looking forward to the next novel.?Jan Blodgett, Davidson Coll., Davidson, N.C.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Milan, 1825. As the ascendant Austrians and the Bonapartist Carbonaris struggle for control of northern Italy, every box at La Scala is abuzz with the revelation that Marchese Lodovico Malvezzi's death four years ago was actually murder--a murder the marchese's family and friends concealed, with the help of the authorities, in order to prevent the presumed assassin's Carbonari cohorts, emboldened by their success, from further attacks. The suspect himself--an English singer called Orfeo, someone the marchese had taken on as a prot‚g‚--has been missing for four years, as have Orfeo's beloved, gardener's daughter Lucia Landi, and Antonio Farese, the servant to his blind singing teacher. Now that a deathbed confession to the deception has made the murder public knowledge, Julian Kestrel (Whom the Gods Love, 1995, etc.), passing through Milan with his pickpocket-turned- manservant Dipper, is eager to offer his services to the local commissario (who declines the offer with alacrity) and the marchese's beautiful, enigmatic widow Beatrice (who accepts the offer, though frustratingly refusing to accept Julian's attestations of love). The questions to be answered--who killed the marchese? was the motive politics, revenge, or blackmail? whatever became of Orfeo, and has he returned to the scene of the crime? which characters will turn out to be Bonapartists?-- guarantee an exceptionally generous unfolding, replete with dramatic episodes, false confessions, and explanations, explanations, explanations. Not a crossover novel, despite its length, but an authentic triple-decker mystery for admirers of P.D. James. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Julian Kestrel Mystery
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (July 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140263640
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140263640
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,068,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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If you don't figure out why that matters, you will eventually.
T. Burket
It combines strong, likeable, plausible characters with a solid period setting, and a mystery that could only have sprung from that setting.
Catherine Raymond
I suggest you start at the beginning of the series (Cut to the Quick) and read your way through and you will enjoy this book more.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Alice Kingsbury on May 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a superb mystery. I just recently became acquainted with the books of Kate Ross, who recently died. Readers will enjoy the dramatic atmosphere of a villa on Lake Como and the welldrawn characters. Music lovers will also get a thrill out of this, because the plot focuses on opera singers and an unsolved murder. Julian Kestrel, a delightful aristocrat with an unusual past, and Dipper, his valet, travel to Italy to solve the mysterious death of a nobleman, who was a passionate lover of the opera. They are looking for the vanished tenor, Orpheo, who is suspected of the murder. Kestrel reminds me quite a bit of the Scarlet Pimpernel character.He is charming and a true gentleman, accompanied by his valet, of course. He becomes entranced with the lovely widow of the murdered nobleman and this romantic theme runs throughout the book. This combines plenty of melodrama and action. The reader will feel as they had gone back in time. This was one of the best historical mysteries I have read in a long time. Enjoy!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Stan Vernooy on August 3, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An Italian nobleman is murdered in 1821, but the authorities announce the death as a heart attack, fearing political unrest if the truth were known. It takes four more years before the true cause of death is revealed, even to the deceased's wife.
Julian Kestrel, an English "dandy" (and apparently in those days the word was not a disparagement), is traveling on the continent, and decides to try his hand at solving the murder. He is apparently experienced at such things, having been the hero of three (?) previous books by Ms. Ross, which I haven't read. So he travels to Italy, along with his somewhat curmudgeonly friend Dr. MacGregor, inveigles his way into the inner circle of the widow, and begins to detect.
Ross does a fine job of portraying the post-Napoleonic period in northern Italy, as its political intrigues run rampant even while the rich and famous are enjoying their operas, their villas, and other perquisites of their status. The murder plot is one of the most complex I have ever encountered in a mystery (and I have read hundreds of them). In fact, once the murder is solved and all the "good guys" rescued from danger, it still requires another 40 pages to explain all the events in the story. Those last 40 pages strike me as very slightly clumsy, as Julian goes from person to person, interviewing them all until every t has been crossed and every i dotted. Perhaps Ross didn't realize until she got to that point in the story, that there were dozens of loose ends to be tied up.
But the writing is excellent, the characters well drawn, and the motivations plausible. And again, the portrayal of the Italian society in that time period is particularly vivid and enjoyable.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
"The Devil in Music", a wonderful Regency mystery set in Italy during the 1820s, is packed with well-drawn, complex characters and a plot that will keep the reader guessing until the end. The basics of the story: an Italian nobleman is murdered, the suspect a mysterious English tenor with the nom de plume "Orfeo" who has disappeared. Julian Kestral, the hero of previous adventures, decides to investigate the death five years later, leading to multiple suspects and surprises. The best part, in this reviewer's opinion, is the emphasis Ross puts on the historical background of Italy in the post-Napoleonic era: the treachery, the underground independence movements, the Austrian domination. Ross even lets the reader know the differences between the Italian dialects of the region. All in all, if you want murder, romance, and a taste of the Regency period, you couldn't do better than this novel, a "cut" above most examples of it's genre -- pun intended.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By ViolaNut on July 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
The fourth and, I think, finest of Ross's Julian Kestrel mysteries takes Julian, his ex-fingersmith (as in, highly gifted pickpocket) valet, Dipper, and their friend Dr. McGregor far from their usual British haunts and plops them into pre-unification, Austrian-controlled Italy. A four-year-old murder mystery, centering on a vanished tenor known only as Orfeo, unfolds on a backdrop of music, high society, politics, and intrigue. The musical details are precise and accurate, while the Milanese dialect that creeps in lends flavor and atmosphere. Characters/suspects include a Frenchman with unbelieveably perfect pitch (the ability to name notes by ear), a castrato (male soprano - you figure it out), the brother, son, wife, and estranged daughter-in-law (she ran away with the castrato) of the victim, Orfeo's blind voice teacher, various and sundry police and military officials, servants, and musicians. Throw in the Carbonari (Italians fighting for reunification) and there are explosions just waiting to be touched off. The conclusion is completely satisfying, and though part of it may leave you saying "I knew it all along" the other is almost completely unexpected - and I'm not even talking about the murderer. I was devastated to learn the author had passed away - once I get hooked on a series I like to see it continue ad infinitum - but this makes a fitting conclusion to Kestrel's recorded adventures, and it's by far the longest of the four as well. I highly recommend the entire series.
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