The author's second and more successful attempt at evoking opera's golden age (A Cadenza for Caruso). This time it's soprano Geraldine Farrar who plays detective when, before a Metropolitan Opera performance, French baritone Philippe Duchon uses a throat spray someone has laced with ammonia, ruins his vocal cords and soon after commits suicide. Duchon, an early arrival in a wave of opera stars from war-torn Europe, made lots of enemies in his short US stay--young American baritone Jimmy Freeman, his long-awaited first big role snatched by Duchon; fanatically devoted coach Osgood Springer; competing baritones Amato and Scotti; even Farrar's agent Morris Gest, who was about to sue Duchon because of a broken contract, and Met producer Gatti-Cazzaza, who thought Duchon was eyeing his job. Farrar spends a lot of time and energy doing the job of N.Y.P.D.'s Lieutenant O'Halloran, for no compelling reason. Meanwhile, there's much vivid reconstruction of backstage and onstage infighting amongst the tempestuous stars. Opera history buffs should love it. But plot and pace are insufficiently intriguing to hold most others.