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A Fatal Finale

(An Ella Shane Mystery #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  110 ratings  ·  57 reviews
On the cusp of the twentieth century, Manhattan is a lively metropolis buzzing with talent. But after a young soprano meets an untimely end on stage, can one go-getting leading lady hit the right notes in a case of murder?

New York City, 1899. When it comes to show business, Gilded Age opera singer Ella Shane wears the pants. The unconventional diva breaks the mold
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 28th 2020 by Kensington Publishing Corporation
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  110 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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Natalia  R
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the first book in Kathleen Marple Kalb's An Ella Shane Mystery series. It's set in New York 1899 and follows Ella Shane, a successful opera singer known for singing men's roles. She runs her own company with her cousin Tommy, and during one of their Romeo and Juliet performances, the soprano Violette, who is playing Juliet to Ella's Romeo, dies in a suspicious manner. The death is ruled an accident, but Violette's cousin, who happens to be a duke, travels to New York to find out what rea ...more
Elizabeth A.G.
Aug 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
An entertaining debut historical cozy mystery novel by Kathleen Kalb in her Ella Shane Mystery series set in Gilded Age New York City in which industrialization, a concentration of wealth and status, poverty, and the rise of an immigrant population were characteristic of the era. We are introduced to opera star Ella Shane who has overcome her "lower class" upbringing to run an opera company, along with her former boxing champion cousin Tommy. The mysterious death occurs early in the book with th ...more
I did enjoy reading A FATAL FINALE as it was worth my time. The story concerns a strong woman, Ella Shane, who is a singer in an opera. I thought this novel was a little more romance than mystery, and I believe most will enjoy reading this!
Opera diva Ella Shane has made the most of her life. Born to Irish and Jewish parents in the Lower East Side of New York, orphaned at 8, she discovered a talent for music at a young age. Now Ella runs her own touring operatic company. A RESPECTABLE opera company, thank you, just because she plays breeches roles doesn’t mean Ella is a mere chorus girl! Ella is having some problems with her new soprano, Violette Saint Clair, overacting but the girl is young and will learn if she’s not too stubborn ...more
Mar 21, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Interesting premise set in an intriguing time and place. The murder happens quite quickly, setting the scene for intrigue early on. The introduction of characters and twists are clever. However, I just couldn’t connect with the main character, although I’m sure others will. I love an original story and this adventure set in 1899 New York City is unique.
Missi Martin (Stockwell)
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am a fan of historical mysteries because it is interesting to read about a time before technology, DNA testing and all that. It is fun to read about a much simplier time with no technology where women were treated differently. And to see how a murder is solved.....

A Fatal Finale is the debut novel in the Ella Shane Mystery series by Kathleen Marple Kalb. In A Fatal Finale we meet Ella Shane who is a opera singer, playing male characters called "trouser roles" and owning her own traveling opera
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cozy-mysteries
Read as an ARC via NetGalley on the Kindle App.

A Fatal Finale by Kathleen Marple Kalb is a terrific historical, cozy mystery led by the lead character, Diva Ella Shane (A true diva, not the pejorative kind!). Set in New York City in 1899, we are quickly reminded of how different things are for women both working and otherwise. My how times have changed!

Ella Shane runs an opera company with her cousin, Tommy, and during a performance their lead soprano, Violette, collapses and dies. Originally r
Jensen Smith
I got a free copy of this book from Kensington Books through a Goodreads giveaway! Thanks so much! My review comes late because I received it just a couple weeks ago.

TL;DR: if you want a story about a woman singing opera and having a weirdly fourth wall awareness of the 20th century with barely a sliver of mystery thrown in, this book is for you.

I had major issues with this story. I don't think it should be classified as a mystery novel, honestly. While there is the aspect of what happened to Ju
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
A strong, intelligent and multi-dimensional female lead character and set in an Opera company in 1899 has the capacity to enthral. The historical aspect in this was immersive in such a way that when I watched some police procedurals during my meals, between reading this book, I had to blink and caught myself wondering why they dressed in contemporary attire because I was still living in Ella Shane’s world! In the beginning, there were not many outward indicators of the time period, which we are ...more
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

This looks to be a standalone historic cozy mystery by Kathleen Marple Kalb. I do hope it will become a series.

I am totally intrigued by the relationship between the Duke Gilbert and Ella Shane. That alone will keep me coming back for more.

Basic premise: A girl in the role of Juliet is found dead by an overdose of nicotine. Turns out the girl is more than she seems and is related to English royalty. She had been working for Ella’s theater company and she feels compelled to find the reas
Karren Hodgkins
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just loved this book and was really sad when it came to an end.

Wow, this author can create characters that not only have depth but are ones to whom I relate.

While the story does revolve around the unfortunate and untimely death of Ella Shane’s employee, the story is so much more than the solving of the ‘case’. The intrigue is built in an intelligent manner and for once, the reader is not led to believe that every person we meet is a potential murderer.

I enjoyed coming alongside the lead, lear
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Hi Friends! Are you a cozy mystery fan? A Fatal Finale is a historical cozy mystery that I really enjoyed! As my last book for April I was happy to end on a high note that well written. I like cozy mysteries because they are never as violent as the thrillers I read but still have murder and mystery. This first book in a new series take place in NYC, in 1899, in the world of opera! So, I even got to learn a few things. .

Ella, the main character, and opera singer is shocked when one of her theater
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After a slump of not so good books, this was such a relief! The story of Ella Shane, a opera singer in 1899, is told with a great deal of verve, humor and talent. Kalb's characterization is top-notch and I was particularly pleased that she has clearly done her historical research into the setting and what was proper in society at the time. Fair warning, the mystery in this is particularly slight, but you'll have so much fun with her characters that you probably won't notice.

I thoroughly enjoyed
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, favorites
A quiet, cozy Gilded Age mystery where the whodunnit takes a step back and allows the atmosphere and exposition take center stage. Maybe because I’m also a classically trained singer it resonated more, but I adored it. I could see Ella and Tom’s townhouse, and each beautifully described clothing ensemble, and I wanted to become part of their troop and live with them! Of course, introducing a forward thinking British duke never hurt, either... I cannot wait for book two and our diva’s next advent ...more
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this first book of a new series! The main character, Ella Shane, is fascinating to me as a turn of the century diva who runs her own company along with her cousin, a former boxer. The rest of the characters are interesting and the mystery is very well done. I like the turn of the century setting and the insights into the world of opera at that time. That Ella is dealing with falling in love for the first time and considering that a man might accept her career after marriage ...more
Vanessa Westermann
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Gilded Age opera singer Ella Shane plays "trouser roles", can fence like nobody's business and is a fabulously witty narrator. This cozy mystery has all the elements necessary for a page-turner, including an intriguing cast of characters, sparkling dialogue, and just the right amount of historical accuracy. I'll be eagerly awaiting the sequel!

*I received a free copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest feedback.
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first of new series Ella Stone Mysteries. This is set in New York 1899 and Ella Stone (i.e. Ellen O’Shaunessy) is an opera singer who sings men’s roles and runs her own Opera Company with her cousin Tommy. In the final performance of their tour of Romeo and Juliet in New Haven the soprano Violette Saint Claire playing Juliet to Ella’s Romeo really dies in the death scene. The death is deemed an accident, but her cousin Gilbert Saint Aubyn Duke of Leith arrives to learn what happened. ...more
Ileana Renfroe
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
On the cusp of the twentieth century, Manhattan is a lively metropolis buzzing with talent. But after a young soprano meets an untimely end on stage, can one go-getting leading lady hit the right notes in a case of murder?

New York City, 1899. When it comes to show business, Gilded Age opera singer Ella Shane wears the pants. The unconventional diva breaks the mold by assuming “trouser roles”—male characters played by women—and captivating audiences far and wide with her travelling th
James Terry
Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
I must preface my review with a disclosure. I was otherwise engaged when I received A Fatal Finale so my wife, whose genre of choice is historical fiction, eagerly grabbed this one up. I watched with interest as she voraciously flew through the pages with delight.
Kathleen Marple Kalb offers a splendid illustration of turn of the 20th century etiquette and appropriate period dress codes of the various classes and professions. Judith Martin (Miss Manners) states that if one wishes to become an acc
Maria Johnson
Mar 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
It is New York in 1899. Diva Ella Shane is an opera singer famous for playing ‘trouser roles’ – playing the male leads.

When the Juliet to her Romeo drinks real poison at the end of a performance, at first everyone believes it’s an accident. However, after a dashing duke comes all the way from England with unanswered questions, Ella starts to suspect foul play.

This book has been amazing from start to finish. A brilliant balance of real mystery combined with one of the best developments of friends
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely INCREDIBLE! It is witty, hilarious, mysterious, intriguing, clever, romantic, and so much more! Every single time I picked up "A Fatal Finale", I felt like I traveled back in time to the Gilded Age, and absolutely did not want to put this book down! From start to finish, this book truly is amazing!

When I first read a summary of "A Fatal Finale", I was grabbed for a multitude of reasons! A cozy historical murder mystery novel set in the late 1800's, mixed in with opera, m
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
3.75 stars

Entertaining debut set in New York City at the very end of the 19th century. Ella Shane, who came up the hard way from her childhood as an Irish orphan, is a strong and compassionate woman. She runs her own opera company which gives her control over her personal and professional life. She is a "trouser diva" who sings male roles in her performances.

Ella is of a very independent character and spirit, aided by her cousin Tom and an appealing cast of friends and co-workers. When a young w
Mar 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A Fatal Finale by Kathleen Kalb is the first in the new Ella Shane mystery series. The series is set in 1899 New York and features Ella Shane, an opera singer who specializes in so-called “trouser roles”, or singing men’s roles in opera. During the final performance of Romeo and Juliet, Violette, the young woman playing Juliet collapses onstage after drinking the prop poison and actually dies, since the prop poison was real. When Violette’s cousin, an English duke, arrive to claim the body, he a ...more
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those special mysteries that I have so enjoyed that I have my fingers crossed that it will become a series. It's that good. Historical mysteries are a favorite of mine, especially those set in the Gilded Age, so my attention was drawn to the blurb and I wasted no time starting it. Ella Shane (full name Ellen O'Shaunessy, daughter of a Jewish immigrant father and an Irish immigrant mother) runs an opera company with her cousin Tommy. She sings the male roles and at the end of their ...more
Apr 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
A Fatal Finale by Kathleen Marple Kalb is a first book in An Ella Shane Mystery series and a real pleasure to read.

Main protagonist is a young girl, an opera singer who came from poverty and rose to become hugely successful singer. She lives with her cousin in New York in 1899 and has a set of great people around her.
An accident happens and a fellow singer dies. Several months later, dead singer relative, Duke of Leith shows up to find out what really happened.
This will reveal many secrets as we
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well written, and I enjoyed how strong Ella's character was especially for 1899. While I liked her well enough, I couldn't feel any sort of connection. Maybe it was just the time period and the fact that I know nothing about opera that I couldn't relate to her, but I did really like Tommy's character. Father Michael was pretty cool too, and how about that Duke? Other characters I enjoyed were Hetty and Yardley from the newspaper. It was interesting how Marie had three children but apparentl ...more
Gabriella Tutino
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley, arc
Ella Shane is a rather unconventional opera diva by 1899's standards. Brought up on the streets of the Lower East Side, she runs her own traveling theatre company with her cousin Tommy, and prefers to play "trouser roles," or male characters for the stage. Although used to dramatics, things take a turn for the worse during a performance of Berlini's I Capuleti e I Montecchi when her Juliet, a Miss Violette Saint Clare, consumes real poison. Weeks later, Gilbert Saint Aubyn, Duke of Leith, appear ...more
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a very enjoyable historical mystery, I’m hoping it’s the first in a series because I’m definitely interested in these characters and would love to read more.

I really like Ella’s character, she was realistic and resourceful. Gil was great and the hints of romance between the two was just the right tone, not the main focus of the book but a part of it that didn’t overpower the murder mystery.

As for the murder, it happens to the company’s most recent Juliet dies by poison early on in the
Sep 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a fun read from cover to cover. New York City, 1899. When it comes to show business, Gilded Age opera singer Ella Shane wears the pants. The unconventional diva breaks the mold by assuming "trouser roles"--male characters played by women--and captivating audiences far and wide with her travelling theatre company. But Ella's flair for the dramatic takes a terrifying turn when an overacting Juliet to her Romeo drinks real poison during the final act of Bellin ...more
Living My Best Book Life
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
A Fatal Finale is a good cozy mystery with an interesting premise and fascinating characters. Kathleen Marple Kalb did a good job of entertaining us in the process. The main character is in show business so it fits very well.

Ella Shane is an opera singer who likes to take on roles that are meant for men. For example, she played Romeo in Rome and Juliet. During her performance, her 'Juliet' faced her own finale when she drank actual poison. This is so unexpected and throws her for a loop.

This is
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Kathleen Marple Kalb grew up in front of a microphone and a keyboard. She started her radio career as a teenage DJ at a small station in her hometown of Brookville, Pennsylvania, and despite a brief flirtation with advanced study in history before taking her B.A. at the University of Pittsburgh (her mother will never forgive her for turning down an assistantship at William and Mary), worked her wa ...more

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An Ella Shane Mystery (2 books)
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