Friday, January 24, 2014

"Whispers of Vivaldi"

Beverle Graves Myers is the author of Whispers of Vivaldi and five previous mystery novels featuring Tito Amato, the 18th-century sleuth with a stellar talent for sleuthing. A former psychiatrist, Myers divides her time between Louisville, Kentucky and southwest Florida.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Whispers of Vivaldi and reported the following:
Place: the Republic of Venice. Time: the autumn of 1745, an age of reckless pleasures, playful artifice, and baroque excess. Maestro Torani, the director of Venice’s flagship opera house, has just set off on a mysterious errand in his private gondola. With a rival theater attempting to rip the Republic’s support away from his theater and Venice simmering with indignation over Torani’s selection of a radically new opera to begin the carnival season, Tito Amato is worried about the old man. The singer-sleuth follows the sleek black gondola along the pavement only to see another boat dart out of an adjoining canal. Rowed by masked bravos, its serrated prow attacks Torani’s gondola like a snapping dog leaps at a cornered boar. After Tito has rescued his mentor from the wreckage, he takes a moment to make some observations.

From Page 69:
Crisis forestalled, I began to feel the cold through my sodden shirt and breeches. I was suddenly very tired. The hubbub caused by the gondola crash seemed to recede into the distance, as if a giant’s hand had scooped me up and set me down on the next campo.

Shivering, I found myself hunching forward, hugging my neck with my right arm. Though my throat was no longer golden, the instinct to protect it remained. I was barely aware of someone—Peppino? — throwing a cloak around my shoulders.

More than anything in the world, I wanted to close my scratchy eyes and forget this flagrant attack along with the bewildering events of the past few days. Instead, I twisted around to survey the intersecting canals.

The wreck of Torani’s gondola had come to rest at a landing across the wider canal. The oaken ribs showing through its lacquered, crumpled hull put me in mind of our Christmas goose once most of the meat had been stripped from the carcass. Several sbirri were inspecting the stricken boat, poking the black frame with long rods. The constables turned to each other with puzzled frowns and impatient gestures, then started questioning the small crowd that had gathered.

The men and women immediately backed away, shook their heads, and spread their hands. Even beyond earshot, their message was clear: “We saw nothing.”

Rain continued to fall, lighter now, but miserable just the same. All was drizzle, haze, and fog.

The marauding gondola had vanished into the mist.
So how well does this passage from page 69 represent the entire story told by Whispers of Vivaldi? Quite well, I’m pleased to report. Tito is depicted as the intelligent, compassionate, loyal hero that he is, and Venice comes wrapped in the misty veil of intrigue that permeates the entire series. If you enjoy fast-paced, well-researched historical mysteries with a sympathetic protagonist and a dash of culture, I predict you’ll keep turning the pages.
Visit Beverle Graves Myers' website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Beverle Graves Myers.

My Book, The Movie: Whispers of Vivaldi.

--Marshal Zeringue