When renowned opera singer Marta Hendriks sees her dead husband in a Paris street, she fears she’s losing her mind — or did she actually see him?
Marta Hendriks is onstage at the Metropolitan Opera in New York when she learns of her beloved husband’s death in a house fire. Overcome, she collapses and has to be carried off the stage.
Fast-forward two years and countless therapy sessions, and Marta is ready to resume her career. In a stroke of luck, she’s hired at the last moment to sing Violetta for the Paris Opera. She manages to keep her emotions under tight control and triumphs in the opening-night performance. During one of her rare days off, relaxing for the first time since her husband’s accident, something threatens her newfound peace. When Marta is caught in a sudden downpour, she dashes for the shelter of a subway station and spots someone doing the same. It is her husband. Marta fears she’s losing her mind – or did she actually see him? Back home in Toronto, she struggles with her need for the truth at the precipice of madness.
Rick Blechta brings his musician's viewpoint to the thriller genre in such novels as Shooting Straight in the Dark, When Hell Freezes Over, and A Case of You. Cemetery of the Nameless was shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel. Rick is an active musician in Toronto.
What if you lost a beloved husband under terrible circumstances, say a fire in your home. You were not there; you were performing in New York at the Metropolitan Opera. If you had been at home, you might have saved him. But you were not there. That's the beginning of this terrific novel from Toronto's Rick Blechta.
Blechta is a master storyteller who writes with a musical touch . . . [He] writes entertaining, well-researched stories with dialogue and setting as highlights. In The Fallen One, Blechta has kicked it up a notch.
. . . what’s best about The Fallen One is Blechta's informed grasp of the opera milieu. Any reader who begins the book not knowing much about an entertainment in which fat ladies sing will finish it with enough knowledge to qualify as a commentator on Saturday-afternoon broadcasts from the Met.
The suspense will keep readers turning the pages until the dramatic conclusion.
Blechta combines the skills of a cozy writer – sharp characters, good food, lots of scenic travel – with the skills of a suspense writer. It's a nice mix. Marta is a terrific and well realized character – I recommend making her acquaintance.
What elevates The Fallen One from competent by-the-numbers suspense is Blechta's clear enthusiasm for the operatic world, as seen through the eyes of a woman struggling to regain her place in it.