Book Review – A Fatal First Night
This week on the blog, I review A Fatal First Night by Kathleen Maple Kab. This is the second novel in her historical mystery series, following her debut novel, a Fatal Finale (you can check out my review of her first book here).
Here is a short blub to give you a flavour of the book:
Diva Ella Shane has made her operatic career famous by her ‘trouser role’ performances by playing the male leads. After the first night of their production of ‘The Princes in the Tower’, Ella finds basso Albert Rueter leaning over a dead body in his dressing room.
Meanwhile, another homicide case is stealing the spotlight. Ella isn’t at all sure that Albert is guilty. With her cousin Tommy and journalist friend Hettie, Ella ponders the mysteries in between her stellar performances.
Soon with her aristocratic ‘friend with an understanding’ joins her from across the sea, not just to see her but for other mysterious work reasons. Can Ella solve the case by the end of the show’s run?
A Fatal First Night – a delightful encore
It was wonderful to dive into this second book. Once again Ella’s voice is refreshing, feisty and poignant as our ahead of time heroine re-joins the centre stage. Kalb treats the author to the world of opera, the streets of 1900s New York and an important focus on women’s issues and women’s rights.
It’s also wonderful to see our friend the Duke return, whom the reader first meets in A Fatal Finale. The romance develops the warm friendship from the first book, with moments of crackling attraction and poignancy. It’s also realistic for Ella to also remain cautious about the relationship, given the expectations of a wife, especially the wife of a duke.
My only slight criticism is that the ‘mystery’ case of the book seemed a bit more on the periphery and little harder to follow at times than the first book. However, the characters and setting are so wonderfully written it kept me reading until the last page, where the the pace ramps up to a satisfying, exciting conclusion.
I really enjoyed this book and it is an impressive second instalment in the world of Ella Shane. I’d definitely recommend this historical mystery, not just for the chance for the reader to wear their detective hats. Kalb writes a refreshing and sassy voice, unafraid to talk about the issues of the day and a slow-burning romance based on genuine, heartfelt friendship.
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Till next time,