Friday, May 20, 2016
SENT TO THE DEVIL by Laura Lebow
Intrigue and murder take the fore in Laura Lebow’s sequel to last year’s The Figaro Murders. Set in Venice in 1788 and punctuated with robust period detail we find Court Poet Lorenzo Da Ponte wishing only for time to work on the libretto for Mozart’s Don Giovanni. This is of great importance as the opera is to be a command performance for Emperor Joseph II who recently declared war against the Turks. That decision has seriously divided the capital city creating tension among the populace, and Lorenzo feels he has no time to waste. But that is not to be.
Lorenzo has been receiving a series of coded notes from an unknown writer and the notes make no sense to him. But above all there is the brutal slaying of a dear friend, Father Alois Bayer, an elderly priest whose body is found with his throat cut and lines carved into his forehead. There are rumors that the murder was committed by Turks who have sneaked into the city. Whatever the case, Count Pergen, the minister of police, remembers Lorenzo’s success as a detective and enlists him to help in the investigation. Of course, Lorenzo cannot refuse to help find his friend’s murderer but is dismayed to learn that a prominent general who the public believes died due to a seizure was actually murdered in the same fashion as his friend.
The general’s daughter demands that her betrothed, Count Benda, avenge her father’s death, so Pergen dispatches Lorenzo and Benda to find the killer. The libretto and two murders are quite enough to occupy Lorenzo until Marta Cavalli, a beautiful young woman arrives in Vienna to find the man she believes is her husband - the handsome Baron von Gerl who is a notorious womanizer. When he rejects Marta she turns to Lorenzo.
Two more murders follow, Lorenzo’s friend Casanova arrives from Venice for a visit, and Lorenzo has good reason to believe he is going to be the next victim. Suspense mounts when he has no choice but to act as bait in a trap to catch the deranged murderer.
If you enjoy historical mysteries Sent To The Devil is for you.