As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, the spotlight today shines on Aria to Death: A Joseph Haydn Mystery by Nurpur Tustin.
When Monteverdi’s lost operas surface, so does a killer desperate to possess them. . .
Preoccupied with preparations for the opera season at Eszterháza, Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn receives a curious request from a friend in Vienna. Kaspar, an impoverished violinist with an ailing wife, wishes Haydn to evaluate a collection of scores reputed to be the lost operas of Monteverdi.
Haydn is intrigued until Her Majesty, Empress Maria Theresa, summons him with a similar request. Skeptical of the value of Kaspar’s bequest, Haydn nevertheless offers to help. But before he can examine the works, Kaspar is murdered—beaten and left to die in front of a wine tavern.
The police are quick to dismiss the death as a robbery gone wrong. But Haydn is not so sure. Kaspar’s keys were stolen and his house broken into. Could his bequest be genuine after all? And can Haydn find the true operas—and the man willing to kill for them?
(An excerpt from Aria to Death appears later in this post.)
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About the Author
A former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate fictional mayhem. The Haydn mysteries are a result of her life-long passion for classical music and its history. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her original compositions, available on ntustin.musicaneo.com.
Her writing includes work for Reuters and CNBC, short stories and freelance articles, and research published in peer-reviewed academic journals. She lives in Southern California with her husband, three rambunctious children, and a pit bull.
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Read an excerpt from Aria to Death:
While he waits for Haydn’s response to his request, Kaspar is visited by a young Italian, Fabrizzio, who claims to be the son of a friend of Kaspar’s deceased uncle. But Fabrizzio, far from corroborating the story Kaspar’s uncle recounted of how he came by Monteverdi’s operas, casts even more doubt upon it…
Wilhelm Kaspar’s eyes widened. “Your father collected music?” he repeated slowly. God in heaven, could there be something after all to the strange tale his uncle had so readily believed? “Why, it must have been he who introduced my uncle to the printer who sold him Monteverdi’s music!”
“Ah, that!” Fabrizzio’s thumb gently stroked the short glossy tuft of beard on his chin, his gaze fixed on the carpet. “There was a printer, yes.” He continued to regard the worn carpet. “Father often recounted the tale to us, but”—he raised his eyes—“it was Wilhelm Dietrich who introduced the man to him.”
He leant back, holding Wilhelm Kaspar’s eyes in a pensive stare. “Whether Father set any store by the tale, I don’t know. I suppose if he had, he would have bought the music himself.”
Wilhelm Kaspar paled. “Then, the bequest. . .” Was it so completely without value? But how could that be? The attempt on the chest suggested otherwise, surely? Besides, Herr Anwalt himself was convinced of its value.
“Forgive me! I should not have spoken so plainly. Your aunt did mention your bequest to me.” Fabrizzio looked contrite. “Wilhelm Dietrich must have had the music authenticated,” he continued in a rush. “What man of the world could fail to do otherwise?”
“I. . .er. . .” Wilhelm Kaspar’s voice faltered. Onkel Dietrich had done no such thing as far as he was aware. What could have possessed the old man to buy such a parcel of old scores? And what must he have paid for it?
Fabrizzio propelled himself forward again and looked earnestly into his host’s eyes. “I would be happy to authenticate the works for you myself, if it has not yet been done. The possibility of your bequest containing the lost operas of the great master are very slim. But there may be some merit in the music, nonetheless.”
He gazed out at the overcast skies and yellow building visible through the parlor window. “I must confess as a music scholar, it quite intrigues me. This possibility of re-discovering works long held to be lost. But no. . .” He shook his head ruefully. “It is unlikely to be the case.”
He turned from the window. “There is news of the Empress having procured two such works herself. You will have heard of it, no doubt.”
Wilhelm Kaspar nodded wordlessly, his expectations ruptured. He had, until this moment, been counting on selling the works to no less a personage himself. He attempted to buoy himself up again.
“If two such works have been discovered, why should not the rest come to light?”
“Ah, yes!” Fabrizzio steepled the fingertips of his hands together. “But Her Majesty’s source claims to have unearthed them all.” He paused before continuing. “Still, there may be hope yet. If you will but allow me to examine the works.” His eyes searched the room, coming to rest upon an old bureau standing near the small clavichord.
Wilhelm Kaspar hesitated. Perhaps, Fabrizzio meant no harm. But how could he entrust his inheritance to a man he had just met? A man so adamant the bequest was without value; yet so eager to examine it?
His fingers closed nervously upon the edge of his seat. If only he had heeded Herr Anwalt’s advice to put the music in safekeeping. The lawyer had warned him another attempt might be made upon it.
“The scores are not here,” Wilhelm Kaspar uttered the lie hastily. “My lawyer has charge of them and has already arranged for them to be authenticated.” Would to God, Haydn could come to him!
“Oh!” A flash of annoyance seemed to flicker across Fabrizzio’s features. He shrugged lightly. “Well, it had best be done soon, then.” His dark eyes bore into Wilhelm Kaspar’s. “Before Her Majesty acquires the same works from another source.”
Excerpt from Aria to Death by Nupur Tustin.