Stranger in the Opera House
Helen Macie Osterman
Five Star, Sep 2009, $25.95
At the Midwest Opera House, sexagenarian significant others Emma Winberry and Nate Sandler obtain jobs as supernumeraries. As the company prepares for a performance of The Ghosts of Versailles, the lead soprano svelte Signori Rienzi screams. Everyone rushes to her dressing room where the drama queen insists someone was in her room. The police find no evidence of such.
Soon others see the mysterious stranger, but no one has been able to catch him. The cast and crew start thinking of the phantom of the opera house, but Nate assumes a street person is wandering in and out of the theater. They soon find a secret room containing a chest filled with historical memorabilia. Emma and archivist-librarian Tristana Morgan search for more items as they learn the opera house was once a station on the Underground Railroad. Emma believes the wraith is an escaped slave who never made it. When someone assaults Tristana and money is stolen, Emma feels she has two inquiries to conduct; one on the mortal plane and the other on the afterlife plane.
This is an enjoyable cozy starring two likable lead characters on their second amateur sleuth case together (see THE ACCIDENTAL SLEUTHS). The story line is fast-paced with much of the opera house cast and Emma thinking ghosts while Nate believes someone more tangible is behind the scenes. Fans will enjoy this fine tale that is nicely complemented by a look back through memorabilia and more at an Underground Railroad station.