Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn would like nothing better than to show his principal violinist, Bartó Daboczi, the door. But with the Empress Maria Theresa’s visit scheduled in three weeks, Haydn can ill-afford to lose his surly virtuoso.
But when Bartó disappears—along with all the music composed for the imperial visit—the Kapellmeister is forced to don the role of Kapell-detective, or risk losing his job.
Before long Haydn's search uncovers pieces of a disturbing puzzle. Bartó, it appears, is more than just a petty thief—and more dangerous. And what seemed like a minor musical mishap could modulate into a major political catastrophe unless Haydn can find his missing virtuoso.
Rosalie, a palace maid, found herself charmed by a handsome stranger she encountered in the palace hallway. He claimed to be Bartó's friend, and asked to meet with the principal violinist. Now Rosalie wonders if the man really was who he claimed to be.
He seemed to know exactly who she was. Only because Master Bartó spoke so often of her, he’d explained. But Rosalie found that hard to believe. The principal violinist’s manner toward her, on the rare occasions that he acknowledged her presence, was nothing other than brusque. She was sure Master Bartó’s friend was…
Rosalie brought her head up so sharply, the muscles in her neck almost cracked. She gazed out the kitchen window, her large violet eyes shrouded in uncertainty. Was it possible? But why lie about such a trivial matter?
Besides, how else could he have known so much about her? He knew she was from Rohrau. Just like the Kapellmeister. Who else but Master Bartó could have told him that? She didn’t think he knew anyone else from the palace.
She considered the nameless man. Now, that was strange, too. He had asked for her name, but not given her one in return. Why not?
And now that she thought about it, there had been something odd about his person, too. Rosalie couldn’t quite put her finger on what it was. Her mind brought up an image of the peasant with his immense height, his boyish good looks, and charming smile.
A peasant? That was it! His clothes were such as any peasant might wear. Coarse gray-green coat and trousers of serviceable loden. Plain linen shirt. A rough wool cloak. She’d thought he was from Master Bartó’s hometown. A simple peasant. But now, she wasn’t so sure.
She’d thought nothing of it when he asked to meet the principal violinist beyond the castle grounds. Convinced it was a matter of some urgency, she had hurried straight up to deliver the message to Master Bartó. Now she wished she had gone to the Kapellmeister instead.
Despite his clothes, the man didn’t seem like a peasant. No more than His Serene Highness would, were he ever to don such garments. Rosalie tried to picture the Prince in the rough, durable garb of a farm-hand. Now, what would mark him as a nobleman even in such rude gear?
She struggled over the question. His speech, perhaps. Or his gait. But she could recall nothing remarkable in either. No distinct feature that set the stranger apart.
If he was really a peasant, why had he…? Well, not lied. But he had been cagey, merely smiling when she asked if he brought news from Master Bartó’s family. Deflecting all her questions. Drawing her out, but revealing nothing. All she’d gleaned was that he needed to speak with Master Bartó. Privately. She supposed there was no harm in that.
Unless he wasn’t a peasant. But a member of the nobility, instead! What business could a nobleman have with the principal violinist of the Esterházy orchestra? And why had he come disguised?
Oblivious to the warm, soapy dishwater growing cold, Rosalie stared out the window, an uneasy stirring in the pit of her stomach. She clutched a silver dish in one palm, held a sponge in the other, but her hands, growing wrinkled and numb in the water, remained motionless.
Finally, she wiped both hands on her apron. The dishes could wait. She would follow Master Bartó and the stranger, and see if she could overhear any of their conversation. There was mischief brewing, she was sure of it.
Author Bio: A former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate fictional mayhem. The Haydn mysteries are a result of her life-long passion for classical music and its history. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her original compositions, available on ntustin.musicaneo.com.
Her writing includes work for Reuters and CNBC, short stories and freelance articles, and research published in peer-reviewed academic journals. She lives in Southern California with her husband, three rambunctious children, and a pit bull.
For details on the Haydn series and monthly blog posts on the great composer, visit the official Haydn Mystery web site: NTUSTIN.COM
Nupur will be awarding a a free print copy of the book (Open to USA, Canada, UK only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.