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The Devil in Music (Julian Kestrel Mysteries #4)

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  1,181 ratings  ·  107 reviews
The Regency dandy and amateur sleuth Julian Kestrel is back in his fourth mystery -- and this time he confronts murder far from home in the sensuous, turbulent Italy of the 1820sWith flawless period detail and a dapper English detective reminiscent of Lord Peter Wimsey, Kate Ross is charming fans of Anne Perry and Elizabeth George -- and earning a loyal following of myster ...more
Paperback, 493 pages
Published July 1st 1998 by Penguin Books (first published September 1st 1997)
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The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Alienist by Caleb CarrThe Historian by Elizabeth KostovaThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónMistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Best Historical Mystery
134th out of 1,084 books — 2,921 voters
The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoRomeo and Juliet by William ShakespeareIf on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo CalvinoThe Divine Comedy by Dante AlighieriThe Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
71st out of 562 books — 235 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,785)
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Joanne Lessner
Finishing this book was bittersweet. Knowing that it was the last that Ross wrote before she died, I kept it on the shelf for awhile, and then savored it over two weeks. It was a beautifully written, labyrinthinely plotted, and atmospherically evocative novel. There were so many intertwining strands that she won the game by allowing the reader to figure out some, but not all, of the nested mysteries. As a reader, I want to think I'm smart enough to see through the traps, but if I figure out ever ...more
Aug 05, 2007 Nicole rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who love historical mysteries
Shelves: 19thcentury, mystery
The fourth and final book of the Kestrel series. One of the greatest tragedies of the 90s was the death of Kate Ross. Julian, London dandy with a talent for detecting and the tact to do it amongst the rich, goes to Italy where he solves an old mystery and we learn more about his past before we are cruelly ripped away from that world. I probably love this book the most since it was the first I read, but I did make up for it by rushing out to read the rest of the series.
I almost abandoned this book a number of times and the only reason I didn’t is because I had loved her other three books so much. I’ve decided to make a checklist of all the literary things I hate that this book included. *Warning I am going to post some very mild spoilers.*

Five things Amy hated in this book:
5. Surprise twists at the end when no clues had been developed earlier in the book
4. Love at first sight between main characters when you are never given any reason to believe that there is
The best of Kate Ross who never wrote a bad book. What a tragedy that she died so young. What can I say about this 4th and last novel of a superlative series that gives it its full due. Mystery genre in cultural depth! I can only think of a handful of moderns that pull that off. Bel Canto comes to mind. Or some of Louise Penny. But this is 1825 and we are in Northern Italy for the entire on top of it. City-state intrigue, classic manners of three cultures, immense class differences in characteri ...more
A really great novel as well as a good mystery. It's unfortunate that this was the author's last book, because it shows hoe skilled she was at creating an atmosphere and a large cast of believable characters. All the characters felt like real people with their own motivations and secrets. Of the many secrets in the book, some were truly surprising and others were not. That's my only quibble with the book, that I wish I had been more surprised by some things. But I didn't guess Whodunit, so that' ...more
Blair McDowell
The Devil in Music is number four in a series by Kate Ross featuring dandy, musician and amateur detective Julian Kestrel and his side kick, former pickpocket turned valet, Dipper. We find the pair in Italy on Lake Como in the political turmoil that followed the Napoleonic wars, trying to solve a murder of a nobleman who loved opera and doted on spectacular voices. Is his death related to his most recently discovered singer “Orfeo” who mysteriously disappeared the night of the murder, or could t ...more
Murder mysteries are not usually my thing, but I could not put this book down. Set in ninteenth-century Milan, the plot and characters center around the cultural and political antics of the time - namely, the operatic tradition. As I had a somewhat insatiable interest in classical music and opera this year, I found myself delighted to recognize terms and traditions I read throughout the novel. I enjoyed having an historical and cultural context in which to place the characters as well. While I w ...more
One of my favorite mysteries. Intelligent historical mystery set in Italy. One of Kate Ross' best. Julian Kestrel is a multi-faceted character and I feel that the author had much more planned for him, but she only wrote the 4 books before she died. This is one of those mysteries that you can read several times and spot new and subtle clues on each reading. Although they do have the "let me explain to you all exactly how I solved the crime" scene at the end of the book, for the most part the auth ...more
The last book in Kate Ross' series on Julian Kestrel as a detective in the early 1800's. Read the others first. Julian becomes involved in a murder that had been hidden for 4 1/2 years. With his valet Dipper, a reformed pickpocket, he resolves a mystery with its beginnings many years before.
As a mysterious English dandy and man on the town, he has little credibility with the Italian police other than his renown solving four previous intricate murders in England. Under threat of being a suspect
Julian Kestrel in Italy. He teams up again with the curmudgeonly Dr. MacGregor and Dipper, that lothario of valets, to solve the murder of an Italian marquis. It’s a good read, and there’s some nice material here for opera fans - one of the suspects is a castrato, living in the age when the popularity of those extraordinary performers is in decline.

I think some fans of this series will be enchanted with the ending, but I’m not sure I liked it. It transformed Kestrel’s character, revealing too mu
Probably the best novel of the Kestrel mysteries, from a writing standpoint. Ross is able to vividly evoke revolutionary Italy without bogging down the narrative with too much historical detail. Her descriptions of opera, Milanese landscape, and political intrigue show a deft touch -- it's clear how much research she did, but the book is never about showing off that research, just using it to immerse the reader more fully into the story.

The Devil in the Music gets off to a bit of a slow start in
Really a slog to get through this book. It is a complex mystery with a huge cast of characters and a maze-like plot. The style is reminiscent of a nineteenth century novel like The Moonstone. For me, there were too many twists and turns, false confessions, red herrings and long speeches as characters attempted to explain themselves. I'm not sure I would have gotten through it if I hadn't been reading on long train and plane journeys.
Feb 17, 2014 Besha rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
I'm sad that there aren't more books in this series; the plots are hilariously complex and engrossing, the writing is excellent, and the period detail is superb.

That said, Kestrel was beginning to grate. Everyone loves him! He's super smart AND super talented AND all of his enemies are obviously evil AND he has a mysterious dramatic past ex which the author can pull any deus she needs!

"Too noble" and "too special" and "cannot resist cherishing a noble, yet restrained, passion for beautiful ladi
Leah Alvord
I think my boyfriend is a little tired of the phrase 'this book just got good' due to how often I interrupted Final Fantasy XII with it. Yes, it was worth every raised eyebrow and shake of the head.


In Austrian-Italy of 1821, a notable--and formidable--Italian nobleman, Marchese Lodovico, is found murdered at his villa on the Lake of Como. It is a crime that was to be covered up for four and a half years. Leaving the only suspect, a young English Tenor known only as Orfeo, to disappear in
I wanted to like this book – a historical mystery set in Italy in the 1820’s. The author died tragically from cancer at a very young age and the book is highly acclaimed, but it just did very little for me. The story concerns an Italian nobleman in the Lake Como region of Northern Italy who befriends an English singer and tries to promote his training and ultimate career in the opera. A murder occurs though, leaving one dead and the other disappeared. Enter Julian Kestrel, the noted English dand ...more
Text Addict
It took me a long time to finish this, because unlike the earlier three volumes, it dragged. The first 50 or so pages held a lamentable lack of Julian Kestrel, and even once he arrived on the scene there was a lot of conversation and very little progress.

Really, things only took off after Rinaldo Malvezzi arrived on page 266, and then they proceeded most satisfactorily: drama, another murder, investigation, recriminations, tragedy, and threats of premature interment! Not to mention a twist in th
First of all, I am so sad that I have reached the end of this wonderful series. :(

Moving on, I LOVED this book! It was gripping right from the start and never let up until the end. I literally could not stop reading it yesterday. I'd try. I'd put the book down and go to do something else, but within a matter of moments, I was settled back in and reading.

As before I had no idea who the guilty party was right up until they were unmasked.

However, [huge spoiler under the spoiler tags-read at your o
Christy B
The Devil in Music is the best mystery novel that I have ever read and is the final book in the best mystery series I have ever read!

In 1825 Italy, the news of the murder of the highly prominent Lodovico Malvezzi and the concurring disappearance of his protégé Orfeo has spread like wildfire all through Italy and beyond. The problem with this is, this all happened four years before! In 1821 the death of Malvezzi was declared by natural causes, for fear that his death by murder may cause a politic
I wasn't really surprised by the twist at the end, but I was a bit disappointed. In the beginning I had suspected it but as the story went along, it seemed less and less probable. Once it was finally revealed, it didn't seem credible. That was the one sour note to this novel. Kestrel was, as always, fascinating and likeable. MacGregor was a welcome presence, Dipper was himself, and the new characters were all well-drawn and interesting. An enjoyable read and I hope it won't prove to the the last ...more
Claudine Sazelleb
I bought it on Booksale at Gaisano Mall here in Cagayan de Oro City. I love the cover of the book, the story, i really like mystery novels so much and also Julian Krestel! <3 He's such a gentleman and i think i've fallen in love with the main character. The novel also mentions about famous musicians and plays which are Gioachino Antonio Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" and and an opera buff(comic opera) "The Marriage of Figaro" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I love classical music, romantic, ba ...more
Wonderfully constructed, complex and final book of the four in this author's Julian Kestrel series. I have just finished the read. I admit to spreading it out over a bit of time since I knew it was the author's last book before her untimely death. This was such a satisfying book on many levels: mysteries, music, history lesson, travel diary, manners of the aristocracy from several countries...and finally the unveiling of Julian Kestrel's history. You can be certain I shall read this book again. ...more
I'm sad Kate Ross isn't around to write more books, I would have loved to hear more about some of the characters.

-post napoleonic northern italy under austrian rule
-carbonari (sp?) Italian independence secret organisation
-intricate mystery plot
-interesting nicely done secondary characters (de la marque, dipper, the doctor, lucia)
-nice love rivalry
-characters feel like people of their era, book is well-grounded

I have to say Julian, for me, is not an extremely colourful, larger-than-l
Nelda Pearson
This the fourth and last of the Julian Kestrel series. Author Kate Ross died of breast cancer within a year of publication. Unlike the earlier novels this one takes place outside England in Italy. Kestrel plays two roles, the plot is very complex, we learn more of Kestrels past, and Kestrel falls in love. We also learn alot about Italy after the end of the time of Bonaparte. Perhaps too slow a plot development for some readers, it is a an engaging mystery and a good read.
The last in a really enjoyable series. I even got a little emotional at the end of this, knowing it was the last. Julian was really starting to be fleshed out as a character and the potential of this series going forward was great. Such a bummer that it ended.

This installment takes place in Austrian ruled Italy. On the same night a very powerful man is murdered and his musical protege, a singer, disappears. The conclusion is inevitable. But of course Julian isn't convinced. As usual with the Kes
I had mixed feelings over this mystery, first off, it was very clever and I did not guess in a million years who Orfeo really was, so it had me there! But, there were some areas of the book that dragged. Julian doesn't even enter the scene until Part II, after the entire first part leading up to the murder of the marchese. I did find myself getting a bit bogged down with all the Italian characters and wondering why this, why that, but by the end it all made sense. About the end, well, I think ab ...more
I'm glad I read this, and sad that it marks the end of the author's work. That said, this final installment dragged terribly--the first several chapters made sense later, but at the time they seemed slow and overly detailed. And again, Kestral ends up in a romance that I don't remotely buy. The plot itself was interesting, however, and I enjoyed the twists and turns later in the story.
After devouring the three previous Julian Kestrel books in under a week, I took my time with this one. The change in setting-- moving from England in the 1820s to Italy under Austrian rule-- threw me off a bit, and knowing this was Kate Ross's last book made me want to take it slow. But once I hit the halfway mark, the story picked up quickly and I found myself speeding through again. I liked learning more about Kestrel and his past as the book went on-- Ross has had a habit of dropping tantaliz ...more
Helloooo, Julian Kestrel--where have you been all my life? Definitely need to read the other books in this series; I've rarely found anything in the Mystery section with this much dazzling historical detail.
Really loved it, the first and last book were the best in the series. I love books about the English Regency but I've been wanting to read something set in Italy around the same period. This is just perfect in that regard, painting a picture of Piedmont and Lombardy circa 1825. Julian Kestrel is his usual smartass self, and the mystery is transparent (especially Orfeo's identity) but still entertaining. In the last chapters there is an account of Julian's backstory, which made me sad because it ...more
These books are not well known, but they are absolutely terrific mysteries -- the detective has a LOT of complexity and is fun to read, the plots are exciting to follow and always surprise me, the supporting characters (especially Dipper) are enjoyable and well drawn, and the whole thing is a mass of well-researched detail. This is my favorite of them, but I would recommend starting with the first one, Cut to the Quick, and reading them in order -- they are all well worth the effort. The author ...more
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Kate Ross, born Katherine Jean Ross, was an American mystery author who wrote four books set in Regency-era England about dandy Julian Kestrel. The novels in the series are Cut to the Quick (1994), which won the 1994 Gargoyle award for Best Historical Mystery, A Broken Vessel (1995), Whom the Gods Love (1996), and The Devil in Music (1997), which won the 1997 Agatha Award for Best Novel. The Lulla ...more
More about Kate Ross...

Other Books in the Series

Julian Kestrel Mysteries (4 books)
  • Cut to the Quick (Julian Kestrel Mysteries, #1)
  • A Broken Vessel (Julian Kestrel Mysteries, #2)
  • Whom the Gods Love (Julian Kestrel Mysteries, #3)
Cut to the Quick (Julian Kestrel Mysteries, #1) A Broken Vessel (Julian Kestrel Mysteries, #2) Whom the Gods Love (Julian Kestrel Mysteries, #3) Crime Through Time (Crime Through Time, #1) Past Poisons: An Ellis Peters Memorial Anthology of Historical Crime

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