Monday, October 24, 2016

The Metropolitan Opera Murders: Review

The Metropolitan Opera Murders (1951) is Helen Traubel's venture into detective fiction. Her intimate knowledge of the wheels within wheels that make New York's Opera House run gives the mystery its very authentic flavor. She takes the reader behind the scenes to reveal the jealousies, temperaments, and talents that can be blended to produce several motives for murder. The book opens with the Wagner's Die Walk├╝re in mid-performance. Elsa Vaughn, the diva singing Br├╝nnehilde, watches in horror as the prompter, one time a singer himself, dies in the prompter's box--hidden from the audience.

When Lieutenant Quentin begins investigating, it is revealed that Rudolf Salz was killed by his drinking poisoned liquor which he lifted from Vaughn's dressing room. And she tells him that this isn't the first incident--someone had put ground glass in her cold cream and, fortunately, it had been noticed before any damage was done. As the case continues, another woman who had aspired to Vaughn's role is shot while sitting where the star was thought to be and several attempts on Vaughn's life are foiled. But, now that her rival is dead, who exactly would benefit from Vaughn's death? Quentin will have to work his way through blackmail, professional jealousy, and misleading evidence to spot the killer and real motive before it's too late.

This is a fair example of a mystery by a first-time author who is trying to use her real-world experiences as a backdrop for murder and mayhem. Traubel does a decent job--she has tried valiantly to provide red herrings, false clues, and fair play. She is at best providing the atmosphere and authentic setting and characters--and she even gives a good portrayal of the lead detective. The mystery itself is not terribly intricate and old hands at the detective novel game will spot the killer and motive, but Traubel is entertaining and this makes for a nice, comfortable, quick read.  ★★--just.

This fulfills the "Performer" category on the Golden Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.


J F Norris said...

She didn't write it. It was ghost written by Harold Q. Masur, the creator of the Scott Jordan mystery novel series.

fredamans said...

Sounds like a great debut mystery!

Bev Hankins said...

John...Thanks for the information. Should have researched that one a little more carefully.