Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

The Devil in Music

Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Devil in Music (1997) Kate Ross (Julian Kestrel)

The Devil in MusicSet in Italy in 1821 & 1825

I put it off for awhile, but finally read the last Julian Kestrel mystery.

I don’t know for certain, but I feel like she knew this would be her final book, and so made sure to give us Julian’s backstory as well as an intriguing mystery.

The story opens in Italy where Lodovico Malvezzi, has taken on a young tenor he calls Orfeo to train for the opera, with the blind master Donati.

Lodovico has a deep passion for music, and wants to hide the man he calls Orfeo from the public until he appears on the stage.

We learn little about Orfeo, except through his actions with the few people in the villa.

Donati knew Orfeo had fallen into the habit of correcting Tonio’s errors. He would glance over Tonio’s work, ask a few questions, and then take the exercises away where he thought Donati could not hear him rewriting them. He was always doing Donati little unobtrusive favours like this.

Which is why it is shocking when Orfeo disappears the night of a brutal murder.

The book picks up years later, with Julian and MacGregor touring Italy. It isn’t going especially well.

MacGregor had none of the gentleman’s skills of adapting or dissembling. His rugged honesty was one of the things Julian most respected about him—but he had never had to live with it for an extended period before. Unwilling to abandon MacGregor to struggle with foreign languages and customs, he had no choice but to forgo many of his own pursuits.

They agree to separate, with MacGregor going home to England and Julian going on to look into the murder of Lodovico Malvezzi what has only recently been discovered to have been a murder. However, Dipper is extremely unhappy with this decision, and MacGregor is unable to get a clear answer from him.

“It’s for Kestrel’s sake that you don’t want to go to Milan, isn’t it?”

Dipper did not answer.

“Kestrel doesn’t want me to know about this, does he? That’s why he tried to fob me off, when I asked him this morning what you had against this Italian business of his. Finally he told me to ask you what it was about—probably because he knew I would anyway. Well, what is it? Out with it, man.”

“I think he ought to keep clear of this h’Italian murder, sir. But he’s got a bee in his bonnet about it.”

“Well, why shouldn’t he try his hand at solving it? He’s solved murders before.”

“Not in h’Italy, sir. Things is different there. The sbirri—that’s the police, sir, but you don’t call ’em that to their faces, ’coz it ain’t a polite word—they can bone any cove and clap him in quod.”

This book always makes me melancholy. It does give us Julian’s backstory, and it ends cleanly, but I desperately want more of his story, and that’s something we’ll never have.

Publisher: Felony & Mayhem Press
Rating: 9/10


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