Milan, 1825. As the ascendant Austrians and the Bonapartist Carbonaris struggle for control of northern Italy, every box at La Scala is abuzz with the revelation that Marchese Lodovico Malvezzi's death four years ago was actually murder--a murder the marchese's family and friends concealed, with the help of the authorities, in order to prevent the presumed assassin's Carbonari cohorts, emboldened by their success, from further attacks. The suspect himself--an English singer called Orfeo, someone the marchese had taken on as a protÃ¢gÃ¢--has been missing for four years, as have Orfeo's beloved, gardener's daughter Lucia Landi, and Antonio Farese, the servant to his blind singing teacher. Now that a deathbed confession to the deception has made the murder public knowledge, Julian Kestrel (Whom the Gods Love, 1995, etc.), passing through Milan with his pickpocket-turned-manservant Dipper, is eager to offer his services to the local commissario (who declines the offer with alacrity) and the marchese's beautiful, enigmatic widow Beatrice (who accepts the offer, though frustratingly refusing to accept Julian's attestations of love). The questions to be answered--who killed the marchese? was the motive politics, revenge, or blackmail? whatever became of Orfeo, and has he returned to the scene of the crime? which characters will turn out to be Bonapartists?--guarantee an exceptionally generous unfolding, replete with dramatic episodes, false confessions, and explanations, explanations, explanations. Not a crossover novel, despite its length, but an authentic triple-decker mystery for admirers of P.D. James.