"Death of a Soprano" By Nupur Tustin: Review/Giveaway

Review by Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of one of Nupur's books and a link to purchase the new one.

Murder in the Key of E-ngaging!

Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn is to conduct the music during a reception in honor of the impending nuptials between the Archduke Ferdinand Karl and his bride Maria Beatrice D’Este. It is imperative the Archduke make a good impression with his future wife, as she had already warned her future mother-in-law, Empress Maria Theresa, that if she was displeased with her future husband, she’d be off to a nunnery, and then, Ferdinand himself would be tied to the church. The bride’s father, Duke of Modena, added to the difficulties by abandoning his wife and bringing instead his mistress, Chiara, a once famed opera singer. 

Opera singers. Haydn worried about the change in the Archduke’s attitude toward the English soprano Signora Lucia Pacelli, even Haydn is taken aback by the prima donna when she greets him inappropriately as “Joseph.” Lucia herself was not happy to have Narcissa Leon, her professional rival, sing at the initial meeting between the betrothed, but is jealousy the reason Lucia collapses and dies? What about the threatening letter found by a servant? Will the total wedding be doomed to fail?

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Image Source Foiled Plots Press
Death of a Soprano
Earns 5+/5 Deadly Arias … Intriguing Excitement!

It is a challenge to write a fictional story with so many historical figures and not step on the toes of those nonfiction purists, but Nupur Tustin has done well with the fifth book in her Joseph Haydn Mystery series portraying these figures as realistically as she can without turning her mystery into a textbook. At the beginning, she included A Note on the Nobility providing a short primer to explain some connections, background, and key attributes of those historical figures, so for those starting the series with this book need not worry, the large cast of characters are easy to follow, but some of the previous experiences do address relationships. 

Be sure to read the Author’s Note: The Soprano Who Died at the end of the book which provides insight into the coincidental inspiration for her murder mystery. The eighteenth-century setting is well described with its class structure, extravagances, limitations, and varied obligations and with characters from an entitled royalty and theater community to a working class, then add a tale of deceit and greed, court intrigue and scandal, and secrets and surprises brilliantly woven together for a “couldn’t put down” experience worthy of a nomination to my best of 2023.

Death of a Soprano began with more than a few characters in need of karmic intervention, and although one’s class may be a shield to some and an obstacle to others, well-deserved comeuppances are always possible. The Habsburg court has its own engaging drama and family dynamic with conflicts and alliances, the theatre scene, of which the ill-fated “soprano” is a part, is filled with egos, ambitions, and treachery, and the servant class, who are often inconspicuous, find themselves with a dilemma when they overhear or discovery something, like a threatening letter, which is hard to ignore or easy to exploit. The journey had a very enjoyable complexity and complicated by some red herring twists and moments of peril, but the final suspect and motive exposed with a clever scheme was exciting. Haydn is unique in that he can freely float in and out of the various social classes adding realism to his inquiry and issues with whom he places his loyalty. It’s an exciting mystery, melding elements of non-fiction with the fiction, that no one one should miss!

Joseph Haydn Mystery

A Minor Deception (2016)

Aria to Death (2017)

Prussian Counterpoint (2019)

Murder Backstage (2022) Review HERE

Death of a Soprano (2023)

Nupur Tustin recently released this short story, The Pompadour Necklace, with a contemporary London setting, a determined young female, intriguing mission, and a surprise result. This is well-worth the time, however short. There’s even a hint that this just might be the beginning of a novella-style series. Check it out hereon Amazon!

The Pompadour Necklace Earns 5/5 Covert Missions … Clever & Well-Written!

Sophie is trying to blend in on the Eurostar making the Chunnel run from Calais to London as she tails her target. Headlines reported on the theft of the famed diamond and emerald necklace once property of the notorious Madame Pompadour, mistress to Louis XV, and the current heir of the necklace, Jeanne Poisson, is sure the thief is her fiancé, Paul Taurus. Sophie has a clear mission to retrieve the priceless item, but is there a hidden agenda?

This short story by Nurpur Tustin is not short on entertainment with its intriguing mystery, clever details, hinted motives, a realistic journey for our protagonist to follow, experienced support, annoyances, and an exciting, surprise conclusion. The narrative is not overly descriptive keeping to the drama, but includes some interesting tidbits about London sites, and the mood from apprehension to determination to triumph is painted well. There’s also a hint that there is more of Sophie’s story to come as she’s proved herself a successful investigator. I am a fan of chapter titles, and seeing a character with a questionable respectability with my maiden name was not planned, but great fun! 

Be a Big Fan of Nupur Tustin!

“Author, composer, painter, and homeschooling mom” along with a PhD in Communications seem the perfect skill set for Nupur Tustin to pen two exciting mystery series. Employing some engaging literary license she wrote the Joseph Haydn Mysteries, an historical mystery putting Austrian composer Joseph Haydn in the role of an amateur sleuth, and also wrote a compelling thriller Celine Skye Psychic Mystery series.

Facebook—Nupur Tustin, Author

Website—Nupur Tustin

Newsletter subscribers receive two books: Murder in Vienna (Joseph Haydn Mystery) and Murder in the Sun (Celine Skye Psychic Mystery).

Enter to win a print copy of Death of a Soprano or an eBook copy of The Pompadour Necklace by Nupur Tustin by making a comment below about: (1) your first meeting with your spouse or significant other, (2) are you a fan of classical music or opera?, or (3) your favorite piece of jewelry., or simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "soprano,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 15, 2023. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode goes up next week.

You can use this link to purchase the book or click here. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. I am a fan of opera and classical music, but it took a while!

  2. Nothing like threatening your future MIL before
    the wedding. I met my future husband over
    the telephone. He invited me out and the
    rest was 45 years of history. Not a fan of
    classical music. Print copy, please. thanks

  3. I'd like to be included! tWarner419@aol.com

  4. I met my husband in a German conversation group at the bank where we worked. He was in the international department and I in mutual funds. We would meet at noon on Wednesdays and chat in German while enjoying our lunch together. He and I were the only unmarried members of the group. So the others started a betting pool to see how long it would take for us to start dating. Two weeks later we went out for dinner and a recital concert. That was 35 years ago and we've been married now for 34.

  5. My husband and I had our first date on St. Patrick's Day at Pizza Hut. My husband at the time was about 5 foot. He was dressed in a green suit, green shirt and a green tie. We went to a movie after we ate. We have been together since.

  6. I've never been exposed to Opera, so not really a fan. Would enjoy reading and learning about Opera.

  7. I met my husband at work. Been together for 30 years now

  8. I met my wife by being introduced to her by a girl I was dating who lived next door to her.

  9. My favorite piece(s) of jewelry is a pair of earrings that spell out vote in the women’s suffrage. Colors of purple and gold made by woman artist in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.

  10. We have a winner!
    Lorie Ham


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