This review of musical mysteries appeared in the Summer, 2003 volume of Mystery Readers Journal.
Music and mystery. An irresistible combination for me, a music teacher and mystery writer. Since I seek out mysteries that have musical themes, or musical protagonists, let me share a few of my favorites with you.
If you're a keyboard fan, be sure to read Jane Langton's DIVINE INSPIRATION, (Viking/Penguin, 1993) an absolutely divine Homer Kelly mystery featuring Bach and Boston. Homer teams up with Alan Starr, an organist who has the daunting job of tuning and voicing the new pipe organ in the Church of the Commonwealth in Boston's Back Bay. The old one had been destroyed by a suspicious fire, which also took the life of the old church sexton. That's mystery number one. Mystery number two involves the baby boy who crawls up the steps of the church while Alan is in there working on the organ. Together, Alan and Homer try to find out what happened to the baby's mother, amidst church politics, eccentric characters, and as many complications as a Bach fugue. DIVINE INSPIRATION is a success on three levels: the mystery itself, the musical references, and the wonderful line drawings by the author.
Other books reviewed in this article: ELEGY FOR A SOPRANO (Villard, 1985) by Kay Nolte Smith; THE TROUBLE WITH TENORS (AmErica, 2001) and MURDER IN FOUR PART HARMONY (AmErica, 2000) by Lorie Ham; ORCHESTRATED DEATH (Avon, 1993) by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles; MURDER IN C MAJOR (Poisoned Pen Press, 2000) and THE VANISHING VIOLINIST (St. Martin's, 2001) by Sara Hoskinson Frommer; MURDER DUET (HarperCollins, 1999) by Batya Gur; THE JAZZ AGE MURDERS (Creative Arts, 1999) by Kathleen Anne Fleming; and THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED (Carroll & Graf, 1999) by Ed Gorman.