Books by John Gano

Released: Oct. 17, 1997

Bargain-basement impresario George Sinclair's Floria Tosca Opera Company (Death at the Opera, 1996), engaged by horsey Lady Janet Tabley on a week's notice to perform La Traviata as a fund- raiser at London's historic Mansion House, is upstaged once again, this time by an assassin calling himself Solomon, who's announced his intention of killing the guest of honor, the Lord Mayor. Complementing the usual romantic complications and pratfalls of the Floria Tosca are the Lord Mayor's checkered present as a buccaneer embezzler, George's ex-lover/half-sister Isabelle's dalliance with a titled, randy businessman, and Solomon's inventive and sanguinary rehearsals for the main event. All the hustle and bustle makes for a giddily enjoyable round of intrigue it would be churlish to take any more seriously than the plot of a bel canto opera. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 22, 1996

Quite a change of pace from the adulterous intensity of Inspector Proby's Christmas (1994): The liaisons among the members of the seat-of-the-pants Floria Tosca Grand Opera Company are just as amorous and irregular, but they're played mostly for laughs, even when they erupt in murder. The company's proprietor and musical director, George Sinclair, has fallen out of love with beefy prima donna Maria Cellini and into the arms of China- doll mantrap Isabelle Morny, who turns out to be his half-sister. Meanwhile, producer/director Jane Nuneham is neglecting her stage-manager husband Edmund for the muscular embraces of the new Don Giovanni, Winston Wheeler, as alcoholic tenor Rupert Brock's silent understudy Tino Tragliava (nÇ Tim Grant) hovers pansexually behind the scenes. So why is the Floria Tosca's not- quite-triumphal tour of Cornwall's stately country houses interrupted by the murder—not of Rose Bolitho, the host's daughter, who's taken a fancy to George—but of irascible corporate sponsor Clay Hammerson, who's not even sleeping with a single member of the troupe? Though the cast is passionate, the tone is genial and urbane, concealing the plot's complications and culprit perhaps a bit too well. Opera buffs won't care, nor should they. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 9, 1994

The shotgun murder of Diana Smyth, pregnant bride of Oxford- educated hoodlum Hippo Doyle, takes on a sinister new aspect when it's followed by a second similar murder, and a third. Although Doyle has a long record of violence and prison terms, and Mary Grogan's boyfriend lied about his alibi, it's the husband of the third victim, Anne Bryant, who catches Inspector Jim Proby's eye- -maybe because he's just seduced Proby's lavish wife, Sheila. Against the odds and the usual pressure from his higher-ups, Proby insists that churchwarden Henry Bryant is the man they want. But it's not going to be easy to obtain evidence against a suspect who's literally written the book on counterespionage, even though, as a fourth murderous attack reveals, Bryant is indeed the killer. There follows a game of wits: Proby bugs Bryant's flat and puts him under heavy surveillance; Bryant easily spots both mikes and shadows, keeps Sheila Proby at arm's length, and bides his time while Proby's politically sensitive Chief Constable gives him an ultimatum and a time limit. It isn't until time has run out that Proby's questions about an inconsequential Christmas gift give him one last chance... A sober, unspectacular debut for quietly appealing Proby. But how can Gano make his next case equally arresting without savaging the poor man's domestic life all over again? Read full book review >