LAST ACT by Jane Aiken Hodge


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One of Hedge's bouncy suspense tales, this one with an operatic oom-pah-pah. The setting is the tiny bankrupt principality of Lissenberg where a lost Beethoven opera is to be presented for the first time. Anne Paget, a widowed and terminally ill young singer, her voice miraculously restored, is summoned to understudy, But en route she's put on the wrong train, her taxi has an accident . . . can someone be trying to wreck the premiere? Efforts to sabotage the opera continue (a flood in the Green Room, food tampered with), but Anne soon takes over the title role while meeting a trio of suspects: Prince Rudolf, the lascivious ruler of Lissenberg; Frenshaw, a munitions maker with an eye on a rich lode of minerals under the opera house; and nice Michael, with an eye on Anne. There's one glorious preview performance before the opera house is blown up (with Prince Rudolf inside), Anne and Michael barely escape through tunnels and dungeons, and evil Frenshaw gets his. Plus: who do you think Michael really is? None other than the legitimate heir to the throne. Also: Anne's death sentence is lifted by a doctor who has sniffed out the erroneous diagnosis. So there's a wedding chorus and joyful curtain. Foolish, light, and easy.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1979
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan