2007: 184. Photo Finish

“One of many marvels of Isabella Sommita’s technique was her breathing: it was totally unobservable.  Even in the most exacting passages, even in the most staggering flights of coloratura, there was never the slightest disturbance of the corsage.”

Photo Finish, Ngaio Marsh

This mystery involves a Callas like diva names La Sommita, who is being hounded by a paparazzi named Strix.  Strix takes her pictures in the most unflattering poses, and sells them to the press, enfuriating La Sommita, and making a name (or a pseudonym!) for him or herself.  La Sommita sends a letter to Troy Alleyn, our detective’s famous artist wife, asking to paint her portrait, and her millionaire manager-lover sends a letter to our hero, asking him to get to the bottom of the Strix situation.  Alleyn is inclined to say no to the whole enterprise, but Troy yearns to paint the diva, and his boss at the Yard suggests that there may be more to the manager-lover than meets the eye (read drugs and maybe more), and orders him to look into it.  So they go down under to dabble in lifestyles of the rich and famous, with the operatic lifestyle thrown in for good measure.  All well and good (and the description of the island mansion is pretty darn fascinating), until La Sommita is murdered, the same night that a huge storm isolates the entire island party (the mansion is in the middle of a huge lake) leaving Alleyn with a famous corpse, a host of motives, and none of his usual professional tools.   Fun times - locked room mysteries are always fun, and operatic divas are even better, and when you thrown in a gigolo, the Sicilian mob and the paparazzi, how can you beat it?


Recommended for: People who like to read about operatic temperaments, locked room mysteries, fancy pants houses.


Date/Place Completed: 12/08/07; D.C.

Categories:  Fiction; Re-read

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017