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Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers' Favorite
Nupur Tustin's novel Aria to Death: A Joseph Haydn Mystery is a historical mystery set in 18th-century Vienna. The central character is Joseph Haydn, the renowned and celebrated Austrian composer. Haydn's friend Wilhelm Kaspar inherits manuscripts which are apparently the long-lost operas of the great Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi. Kaspar writes to Haydn for his help in the authentication of the music scores. Haydn is intrigued when Empress Maria Theresa also summons him to Vienna to authenticate Monteverdi's works that she has acquired. Shortly after his arrival in Vienna, Haydn is plunged into a dangerous mystery when his friend Kaspar is murdered. Haydn is determined to find the killer.
I enjoyed Aria to Death for its strong characters and its richly imagined, convoluted web of suspects and music scores. Haydn is undaunted when promising clues and leads turn into dead ends. I loved the way Haydn's knowledge of music and composers are at the heart of figuring out the puzzling twists and turns in his investigation. Tustin creates uncertainty, twists and turns, and tension through vivid descriptions of people, of their lives, their homes, the Palace, and the streets and alleys of Vienna. I enjoyed the investigative and supportive role that Johann, Haydn’s brother, plays in the story. I also liked the way Tustin brings into the story the history of Monteverdi’s works. The action, the pace, and the tension rise dramatically towards the end. A gripping and suspenseful historical mystery!