Publication Date: December 13, 2014
Black Opal Books
Genre: Young Adult/Historical Mystery/Romance
Winner of the 2014 Rosemary Award for Best Historical for Young Adults.
Venice, 1643. Isabella, fifteen, longs to sing in Monteverdi’s Choir, but only boys (and castrati) can do that. Her singing teacher, Margherita, introduces her to a new wonder: opera! Then Isabella finds Margherita murdered. Now people keep trying to kill Margherita’s handsome rogue of a son, Rafaele.
Was Margherita killed so someone could steal her saffron business? Or was it a disgruntled lover, as Margherita—unbeknownst to Isabella—was one of Venice’s wealthiest courtesans?
Or will Isabella and Rafaele find the answer deep in Margherita’s past, buried in the Jewish Ghetto?
Isabella has to solve the mystery of the Saffron Crocus before Rafaele hangs for a murder he didn’t commit, though she fears the truth will drive her and the man she loves irrevocably apart.
Isabella longs for nothing more than to sing in Monteverdi’s Choir, but in 17th Century Venice, only men may sing in public, not fifteen-year-old young ladies. Isabella’s vocal teacher, Margherita encourages her to keep singing in hopes that she will be able to perform in opera. However, after one of Margherita’s performances Isabella finds her dead, strangled. After Margherita is murdered, secrets about her life begin to surface. The secrets affect Margherita’s handsome son, Rafaele, as well. Rafaele kept Margherita’s saffron business alive, but now someone seems to want to kill Rafaele also. After a botched attempt on his life, Rafaele is accused of murder and Isabella is determined to find out who killed her beloved vocal teacher and set Rafaele free.
The Saffron Crocus is an intriguing young adult historical mystery that incorporates many historical aspects and people in 17th Century Venice. Isabella is young but determined, and while trying to solve the mystery of her teacher’s death, she matures and grows into a young woman. Isabella is given many challenges to overcome, finding out who killed her teacher, a chance to sing in men’s clothing, and the opportunity to save the man she loves; by the end she is a woman I could connect with and respect. The mystery is engaging, with a few twists and turns. I was glad to see a lot of history of the time incorporated into the mystery also, such as saffron as a cure for the plague, the treatment of Jews in Venice as well as art, music and culture. Overall, an interesting young adult historical mystery.
Who knew a singing career would be this much trouble?
“Rafaele!” She flew into the garret. “Piero, it was so wonderful, wait until I tell you!”
The stool next to the bed was knocked over. The tray with the genepy bottle was on the floor, one of the cups broken. The fat candle that had been burning next to Rafaele’s bed had been flung to the other side of the room.. Canvases were strewn all over the floor, some of them slashed, and many of Master Strozzi’s jars of paint elements were broken.
Did Piero and Rafaele have a fight? She quickly suppressed the thought. Who would get into a fight with a man who was already injured?
Something else must have happened.
She walked across the garret. “Piero? Rafaele, are you here?”
Rafaele was not in the bed. The sheets and blankets she had piled on top of him were strewn everywher. Blood-stained sheets spilled over the edge of the pallet. There was a pile of clothes on the floor.
She walked around to get a closer look.
Not clothes. It was Piero. Face down, one arm stretched out before him, as if in supplication.
A puddle of blood under him.
Praise for The Saffron Crocus
“I adored this beautifully written, passionate book. The Saffron Crocus is a glittering, thrilling opera of a novel that plucked my heartstrings and kept me reading at fever pitch. Brava, Alison McMahan! Encore!” -Nancy Holder, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Wicked Saga
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Black Opal Books
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Alison McMahan chased footage for her documentaries through jungles in Honduras and Cambodia, favelas in Brazil and racetracks in the U.S. She brings the same sense of adventure to her award-winning books of historical mystery and romantic adventure for teens and adults. Her latest publication is The Saffron Crocus, a historical mystery for young. Murder, Mystery & Music in 17th Century Venice.
She loves hearing from readers!
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