Murder at the Opera: An Atlas Catesby Mystery

Written by D. M. Quincy
Review by K. M. Sandrick

Wendela Pike is shot to death in front of the Covent Garden opera theater as private detective Atlas Catesby is helping his escort, Lilliana Sterling Warwick, into a carriage just down the street from the portico where the body is attracting a crowd and the apparent perpetrator is escaping down Hart Street. Catesby immediately becomes involved in the investigation as Pike’s protector comes under suspicion. The investigation again brings the sleuth face to face with Malcolm Lennox, Marquess of Vessey and husband of Catesby’s sister when she fell to her death on the main staircase of the Vessey manor house years before.

With the title Murder at the Opera, the reader may well expect to encounter dastardly divas, suspicious supernumeraries, and treacherous tenors. Except for the victim’s vocal talent and relationship with the theater manager, there is little about the inner workings of an opera company, however. The plot focuses instead on societal restrictions on women of lesser means and the titled men who exploit them in 1815 London.

This is the third in the Atlas Catesby mystery series. It follows the standard pattern of amateur sleuthing and moves fans along as characters from previous novels strengthen relationships and overcome preconceived notions. Some readers may wonder why witnesses are willing to reveal so much about themselves to a questioner who is not in law enforcement. That aside, the plot has enough twists and turns and surprises to keep readers wondering until the fat lady sings.