Death By Opera

Murder and mayhem shifts from the Metropolitan Opera to the Santa Fe Opera

Having survived her entanglement in a murder plot at the Metropolitan Opera, violinist Julia Kogan finds herself once more in operatic turmoil at the Santa Fe Opera.


In this sequel to 'Murder In the Pit,' violinist Julia and her cohort NYPD detective Larry Somers head to Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the opera season at the Santa Fe Opera House, where numerous musicians from the Met Opera perform each summer. Against the breathtaking backdrop of the mystical Sangre de Cristo and Jemez Mountains, where Pueblo Indian spirituality has reigned for a thousand years, and the dramatic, sweeping setting of the elegant contemporary outdoor Santa Fe Opera theater, chaos ensues, as murderous activities plague the performers on stage and off. Faced with a murderer on the loose who threatens the sanctity of the prestigious opera company, Julia and Larry are forced to join forces once again to stop the menace from wreaking further havoc.

What Critics are Saying

"A fascinating glimpse into a world that few have the privilege to be a part of...This author’s many years as a violinist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and her enchanting imagination, combine to indulge the reader in a vibrant show that’s rich in history and chills" - Wendy Kendall , Journalist, My Edmonds News

"Even if you aren’t an opera buff, you’ll love the drama of the ghastly murders that occur backstage." - Aaron Paul Lazar , Author

"Get on board with this violinist now. You will not be disappointed by these action-packed mysteries that are as memorable as the music that “accompanies” them." - Amy Lignor , Reviewer,

"We visited the Santa Fe area about a decade ago...they gave us a thorough tour of the backstage. They showed us the B-lift. Somehow your descriptions seemed even more vivid than my own memories. It was almost like visiting it again for the first time. Your ease with languages raised the level of mystery writing for me." - Barry Volkman , Music Educator

* The quote, "Mystery doesn't get ANY better than this!!!! Buy it ASAP!" is by Amy Lignor,


In the Seattle, WA area,
Death By Opera
is available at:
Seattle Opera Amusements Gift Shop
McCaw Hall
321 Mercer St.
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 774-4990

In the Edmonds, WA area,
Death By Opera
is available at:
Edmonds Bookshop
111 5th Ave. South
Edmonds, Wa 98020

In the Santa Fe, NM area,
Death By Opera
is available at:
Garcia Street Books
376 Garcia Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501

In the Santa Fe, NM area,
Death By Opera
is available at:
Collected Works Bookstore
202 Galisteo St.
Santa Fe, NM

In the Lake Forest Park, WA area,
Death By Opera
is available at:
Third Place Books
17171 Bothell Way NE, #A101
Lake Forest Park WA 98155

An Excerpt from
"Death By Opera"

“Is that the costume director’s brother up there?” Julia asked Matt.
“Yes. How did you know?”
“I met Magda yesterday. She mentioned her brother was a tenor. He certainly looks like one.”
“Typical tenor for sure, with that physique. Solidly built. Too bad the poor guy has to die on stage, violently,” said Matt. “But that’s par for the course in this opera.”
“Hopefully I won’t feel like killing myself after playing it,” Julia said.
“Of course you won’t.” Matt lowered his voice. “But be forewarned. The guy in back of you, Lenny, is the jealous type. He seriously wanted your job.”
Julia stole a glance behind her to see a long-limbed man with angular features feverishly practicing a difficult passage.
“He’s been coming here for years,” Matt said. “And he’s not been shy about complaining that you were chosen over him. He might try to sabotage you. Be aware.”
“I can handle him, Matt. I’m a feisty New Yorker. And Jewish to boot. No worries.”
Julia had found herself in similar situations ever since she first started playing in orchestras as a student, when other players who envied her more advanced position exercised their right to a so-called “challenge.” Whatever her current insecurities and self-doubts about her new position, overall Julia felt confident enough in her abilities as an orchestral leader and to fend off any and all such challenges.
*Just let him try to ruffle me. I’m ready for it.*
“Act 3, final scene, please,” Stewart said. “Let’s start right in by killing off Lulu.”
Amidst snickers from the ranks, he opened his score. Julia summoned up her courage. She knew she hadn’t practiced enough; despite her confidence in her orchestral leadership abilities, for the first time in her musical life she felt unprepared and insecure about the difficulty of the music.
Stewart looked up from his score at the stage and grumbled, “Harold, it’s five seconds to downbeat. Where the hell is Emilia?”
Julia heard a high-pitched, heavily Italian-accented voice emanating from the wings and looked up to see a tall, dark-haired woman flounce onto the stage, followed by a disheveled man wearing glasses carrying a large book and a second, equally unkempt man waving his arms.
“Ma…quello direttore sa niente,” the woman complained to the bespectacled man, waving toward the second man.
Julia watched from the pit, intrigued, as the mini-drama took place on stage. She had experienced enough rehearsals at the Met to have become familiar with the capricious behavior of divas, but to her Emilia seemed over the top even by that standard.
Julia, elated to see her friend Marin onstage, gestured in Marin’s direction. Marin waved back.
Stewart frowned. “You’d best focus your attention on your music, Julia, rather than the stage.”
“I’m sorry, Maestro. It’s just that Marin and I have been friends since—”
“We need to use every ounce of our collective vitality to make up for what we lack in numbers,” Stewart snapped. “This music is difficult enough without your being distracted. Keep your friendships outside.”
“Yes. Of course.”
Julia heard a soft chortle and snuck a peek at Lenny behind her, smiling crookedly.
*Maybe Matt is right. I’d better watch out for this guy*.
As Marin seated herself, Emilia flashed a hostile glance in Marin’s direction and stage-whispered to Goran, “She sings too loud. Always tries to upstage me.”
Marin frowned. “I heard that, Emilia. In case you’ve forgotten, I’m your lesbian lover. Try to be a little kinder, would you?”
Salman suppressed a groan. “Let’s just sing, shall we?”
Goran and Emilia huddled together as Marin observed their interaction.
Julia, horrified, watched the bloody violence unfold onstage. She knew the singers were just acting, and the scenario was only make-believe; but the sheer awfulness of what she was seeing was so realistically portrayed, she couldn’t keep her jaw from dropping.
“Pretty heavy duty, isn’t it?” Matt asked.
“I…I just can’t take my eyes off the action,” she said, but seeing Stewart’s disapproving glare she tore her eyes away from the stage and back to the music before her.
Meanwhile, Emilia had come back to life and strode onto the stage to confront Salman. “It is not most effective staging. Murder must be onstage.”
Salman finally lost his patience. “It’s the way John Crosby conceived it,” he growled. “Take it up with him.”
“But John Crosby is dead.”
“Precisely,” said Salman.
“Oh!” cried Emilia, her expression outraged. “You are…bischero! Idiot!” Fuming, she marched off stage.
“That attitude will make you even more enemies than you already have, Emilia!” he shouted.
Turning on his heel, he stomped offstage in the opposite direction.
“Harold,” Stewart called out, “Tell Emilia if she shows up to the dress rehearsal less than five minutes before downbeat, she will be replaced.”
Harold just stood rooted to the stage, his expression helpless.

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