Kathleen Marple Kalb: A Fatal First Night

This is the second in Kathleen Kalb’s delightful series about opera star Ella Shane, who is working in  New York City in 1899.  She and her cousin Tom run an opera company and live agreeably together in a large brownstone with Ella’s parrot, Montezuma.  These books have a really vivacious quality, matching Miss Ella’s own.  Not only is Ella a working woman in 1899, she sings men’s parts – she’s what was known as a “trouser diva”.

Her first nights tend to be problematic, however.  In the first book, as she sang Romeo to her Juliet, Juliet was really dead.  In this book, though the stage portion of her new show goes perfectly, when she comes off stage she discovers one of her co-stars in his dressing room, covered in blood, a dead man at his feet.  The gentle singer is hauled off to the Tombs and Ella tries to wrap her head around his guilt. read more

A Bouquet of Historical Mysteries

To my mind, historical mysteries are some of the best mysteries being written at the moment.  They combine classic elements of detective fiction, unmarred by cell phones or computers, and combine it with fascinating time periods and characters.  These wonderful books are now all available to order on our website, along with many other historical mysteries (have a browse!) Kathleen Marple Kalb’s first novel came out this April, a difficult time for a first novel, with no bookstore events or conferences to attend.  I am not a fan of the cover art, but I am a huge fan of this charming debut.  My review ran in Mystery Scene, and you can read it here.   The main character, Ella Shane, is a “trouser diva”, an opera singer who sings men’s roles in 1899.  At the time, opera was a travelling proposition, as the Met was new.  If you enjoy books by C.S. Harris, Anna Lee Huber or Dianne Freeman, check this one out. read more