- Series: Ransom/Charters Series
- Hardcover: 258 pages
- Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (November 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312262574
- ISBN-13: 978-0312262570
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,653,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ransom at the Opera (Ransom/Charters Series) Hardcover – November 1, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Opera fans will welcome this seventh book in Hunter's witty series featuring police detective Jeremy Ransom and sidekick Emily Charters (Ransom Unpaid, etc.), set on opening night at Chicago's brand-new Sheridan Center for the Performing Arts. Riccardo Nuevo and Maria Cortez, two brilliant but relatively unknown singers, are playing Don Jose and Carmen in a controversial and innovative production of Carmen. Riccardo's being hopelessly in love with Maria adds verisimilitude to their performance, for she has eyes only for her managerAand anyone else who can further her career. In the last act, Don Jose raises his knife to strike Carmen, drops it and falls dead at her feet. That's not the way it's supposed to happen! Emily, who's in the audience, knows immediately that Riccardo has been murdered, probably poisoned. When the engaging, low-key Jeremy gets assigned the case, he's dismayed to find that, besides the principals of the cast, there are 30 members of the chorus and another 20 extras, as well as stagehands and crew. It's obvious that this is an "inside job," but where could the poison have come from? Riccardo hadn't anything to drink on stage, and the two coffee cups in his dressing room containedAjust coffee. The plot has enough twists to keep the reader guessing, with just about every major character a suspect at some point. Writing in a suitably "operatic" style, Hunter delivers a dramatic and fully satisfying denouement. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Hunter's latest in the series featuring Chicago Detective Jeremy Ransom revolves around the death of a tenor. Apparently dead from respiratory arrest but probably poisoned, Riccardo Nuevo may not even be the intended victim, since cast and crew liked him as opposed to the titanically-egoed diva, tempestuous mezzo-soprano Maria Cortez. With virtually all cast and crew members eager to throttle her, as well as a gay couple secretly administering the funding and operations of the theater, the suspects for both murderer and victim must take a number and stand in line in this vibrant and colorful brainteaser. Whitney Scott
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Top Customer Reviews
The production, which defies operatic guidelines as the performers dance while singing on stage, is successful until the climax. In the final act, Don raises the knife to kill Carmen, but instead the actor Riccardo crumbles to the stage floor. The medical examiner reported Riccardo died from a pulmonary edema, not a probable cause of death for a healthy thirty year old. Detectives Jeremy Ransom and Gerald White are assigned to investigate whether someone poisoned the victim. They start the inquiries by visiting a friend Emily Charters who attended the show. From there, they visit the large cast and support crew trying to uncover the insider who killed the star.
RANSOM AT THE OPERA, the seventh Charters-Ransom tale retains the freshness of the series that cleverly incorporates a cozy inside a police procedural. The story line is filled with several twists and turns, as numerous suspects seem viable with motive, mean, and opportunity available to them. The lead characters are fun to observe in action especially the interrelationships between Jeremy and Emily and Jeremy and Gerald. Fred Hunter turns a night at the opera into an entertaining who-done-it.
The book is filled with spirit and fun, gently lampooning the conventions of the opera and theater folk in general -- BTW, about the issue of opera singers smoking and drinking--apparently some people believe the stereotypes about divas being chemically pure women perpetually spritzing their throats with atomizers. I used to do makeup at the Lyric, and believe me, some of these people smoke like chimneys (yes, backstage!) and drink like fish.
This book is a lot of fun.
Operas aren't musicals and CARMEN isn't RENT. It's highly unlikely that an opera produced by a shoestring local California opera company, no matter how innovative and no matter how well-reviewed by a major paper, would capture national attention and run nightly for months on end. Much more likely: the company would give 2 or 3 performances locally. With great opening night reviews, nearby big-city opera cognoscenti would want to check out the show and probably attend the company's next production - and that's about it!
It's also virtually unthinkable that any opera singer would smoke or drink before/during a performance. And as for a leading lady going out to dinner before her opening night performance - no way! She'd be in her dressing room drinking gallons of water or hot tea, nervously vocalizing or babying her voice, and praying that she'd have a huge success. Nor would an up-and-coming singer complain about having to sing in a major city like Chicago because she wanted a vacation - she'd be thrilled! And while I'm at it - she wouldn't be able to afford to hire a fulltime personal assistant (more likely, she'd be up to her eyeballs in debt from her very expensive voice lessons) - and if she was as unpleasant and temperamental as this one is, she would have been thrown out of the show long before opening night!
Finally - these days, singers don't worry about not being taken seriously because they're from from (gasp) Texas! And for the record - there's a big (huge, gaping!) difference in the accents of a a true Spaniard (Castilian) and a native Texan, no matter how fluent (Mexican-flavored)!
If you don't mind any of this, have fun with the book. And if you're interested in knowing more about the real backstage opera scene, check out Manuela Hoelterhoff's "Cinderella & Company" - a highly readable non-fiction book packed with amusing gossip.