In 1788 Vienna, Court Poet Lorenzo Da Ponte is putting some finishing touches on the libretto for the premiere of his new opera with Mozart, Don Giovanni. A huge success when it debuted in Prague, the Emperor has decreed that it shall be performed in Vienna. But Joseph II is off prosecuting a less-than-popular war against the Turks, and the city itself is in a turmoil. There are voices protesting the war, others who see Turks around every corner.
Da Ponte, however, just wants to do his work and enjoy life. But these simple desires aren’t easily fulfilled. He’s been receiving a series of mysterious coded notes from unknown hands, notes that make no sense to him. Then an old friend is viciously murdered, with strange symbols cut into his forehead. Summoned to the police bureau, Da Ponte learns that this murder was not the first. Determined to help find his friend’s killer, he agrees to help with the secret investigation. Caught in a crossfire of intrigue both in the world of opera and politics, Da Ponte must find the answer to a riddle and expose a killer before he becomes the next victim.
“[An] outstanding sequel…The puzzle, characters, and period detail are all top-notch.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Solid writing from Lebow, rich in period detail and opera lore. Fans of historical and musical mysteries will look forward to enjoying more time lost in the baroque with Da Ponte.”
Vienna, 1786: Lorenzo Da Ponte is the librettist for the Court Theater during the enlightened reign of Emperor Joseph II.
One morning, Da Ponte stops off at his barber, only to find the man being taken away to debtor’s prison. Da Ponte impetuously agrees to help the barber’s fiancée set him free. Yet the librettist is also facing pressures of his own. He has just a little more than a week to finish The Marriage of Figaro with the up-and-coming opera composer Wolfgang Mozart before the opera is premiered for the Emperor.
Da Ponte visits the house where the fiancée works–the home of a nobleman active in Vienna’s diplomatic circles. Hours later, Da Ponte is dragged from his bed and charged with murdering the nobleman’s young protégé. He’s given a choice–go undercover into the household and uncover the real murderer, or be hanged for the crime himself.
“Intricate and engaging, The Figaro Murders offers readers a killer plot, scores of characters…and a vivid evocation of Vienna during the Enlightenment. Lebow leads readers on a twisting chase but plays fair with clues…a vibrant success on all levels.”
“A brisk tempo, a sympathetic hero and a plot as complicated as the beloved opera buffa it parallels will make Lebow’s debut resonate with opera lovers and lay readers alike.”
“…as captivating as a Mozart aria!”
—B.B. Oak, author of Thoreau on Wolf Hill
—Peter Tremayne, author of Atonement of Blood