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Opis ebooka Poor Butterfly - Stuart M. Kaminsky

A killer terrorizes the San Francisco opera, and Toby Peters may be his next victim. The year 1942 is a bad time to stage Madama Butterfly. Although Puccini's masterpiece is a perennial favorite of the San Francisco opera crowd, its sympathetic depiction of a Japanese girl causes tension in the dark months following Pearl Harbor. Newspaper editorialists rage against the production, opera buffs picket the theater, and a note appears nailed to the house door, threatening violence against the cast and crew. When the first workman dies, the maestro calls Toby Peters, a Los Angeles detective who works discreetly for Hollywood's rich and famous. Two days remain before the opening night, and the body count continues to rise. As he hunts for this self-styled phantom of the opera, Toby falls for one of the company starlets. They must tread lightly, or risk a death more dramatic than anything Puccini ever dreamed of. About the Author. Stuart M. Kaminsky (1934-2009) was one of the most prolific crime fiction authors of the last four decades. Born in Chicago, he spent his youth immersed in pulp fiction and classic cinema - two forms of popular entertainment which he would make his life's work. After college and a stint in the army, Kaminsky wrote film criticism and biographies of the great actors and directors of Hollywood's Golden Age. In 1977, when a planned biography of Charlton Heston fell through, Kaminsky wrote Bullet for a Star, his first Toby Peters novel, beginning a fiction career that would last the rest of his life. Kaminsky penned twenty-four novels starring the detective, whom he described as "the anti-Philip Marlowe." In 1981's Death of a Dissident, Kaminsky debuted Moscow police detective Porfiry Rostnikov, whose stories were praised for their accurate depiction of Soviet life. His other two series starred Abe Lieberman, a hardened Chicago cop, and Lew Fonseca, a process server. In all, Kaminsky wrote more than sixty novels. He died in St. Louis in 2009. Review quote. "Kaminsky stands out as a subtle historian, unobtrusively but entertainingly weaving into the story itself what people were wearing, eating, driving, and listening to on the radio. A page-turning romp." - Booklist. "If you like your mysteries Sam Spade tough, with tongue-in-cheek and a touch of the theatrical, then the Toby Peters series is just your ticket." - Houston Chronicle. "For anyone with a taste for old Hollywood B-movie mysteries, Edgar winner Kaminsky offers plenty of nostalgic fun . . . The tone is light, the pace brisk, the tongue firmly in cheek." - Publishers Weekly. "Marvelously entertaining." - Newsday. "Makes the totally wacky possible . . . Peters [is] an unblemished delight." - Washington Post. "The Ed McBain of Mother Russia." - Kirkus Reviews.

Opinie o ebooku Poor Butterfly - Stuart M. Kaminsky

Fragment ebooka Poor Butterfly - Stuart M. Kaminsky

Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Looking for more suspense?

Cover

Begin Reading

About the Book

A killer terrorizes the San Francisco opera, and Toby Peters may be his next victim.

The year 1942 is a bad time to stage Madama Butterfly. Although Puccini’s masterpiece is a perennial favorite of the San Francisco opera crowd, its sympathetic depiction of a Japanese girl causes tension in the dark months following Pearl Harbor. Newspaper editorialists rage against the production, opera buffs picket the theater, and a note appears nailed to the house door, threatening violence against the cast and crew. When the first workman dies, the maestro calls Toby Peters, a Los Angeles detective who works discreetly for Hollywood’s rich and famous.

Two days remain before the opening night, and the body count continues to rise. As he hunts for this self-styled phantom of the opera, Toby falls for one of the company starlets. They must tread lightly, or risk a death more dramatic than anything Puccini ever dreamed of.

About the Author

Stuart M. Kaminsky (1934-2009) was one of the most prolific crime fiction authors of the last four decades. Born in Chicago, he spent his youth immersed in pulp fiction and classic cinema - two forms of popular entertainment which he would make his life’s work. After college and a stint in the army, Kaminsky wrote film criticism and biographies of the great actors and directors of Hollywood’s Golden Age. In 1977, when a planned biography of Charlton Heston fell through, Kaminsky wrote Bullet for a Star, his first Toby Peters novel, beginning a fiction career that would last the rest of his life.

Kaminsky penned twenty-four novels starring the detective, whom he described as “the anti-Philip Marlowe.” In 1981’s Death of a Dissident, Kaminsky debuted Moscow police detective Porfiry Rostnikov, whose stories were praised for their accurate depiction of Soviet life. His other two series starred Abe Lieberman, a hardened Chicago cop, and Lew Fonseca, a process server. In all, Kaminsky wrote more than sixty novels. He died in St. Louis in 2009.

Poor Butterfly

Stuart M. Kaminsky

 

BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

 

Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

 

Copyright © 2015 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany

 

For the original edition:

Copyright © 2012 by The Mysterious Press, LLC, 58 Warren Street, New York, NY. U.S.A.

 

Copyright © 1990 by Stuart M. Kaminsky

 

Project management: Lori Herber

Cover adaptation: Christin Wilhelm, www.grafic4u.de

 

E-book production: Jouve Germany GmbH & Co. KG

 

ISBN 978-3-95859-167-7

 

www.bastei-entertainment.com

 

All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this e-book or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

This is for Irene Bignardi, Giorgio Gosetti,and Elisa Resegotti in Rome

with special thanks toSol Schoenbach, former First Bassoonistwith the Philadelphia Orchestra,for his insights on Maestro Stokowski

Music is by nature remote from the tangible and visible things of life. I am hoping to intensify its mystery and eloquence and beauty.

—Leopold Stokowski

Chapter 1

The chandelier couldn’t hold our weight much longer. When Vera and I had climbed onto it, plaster had fallen and something inside the ceiling had breathed a sigh as if waking from a long bad dream. I’d pushed the ladder away as hard as I could, hoping it would fall without too much noise into the shadows and onto the pile of drop cloths, paint cans, and brushes the workmen had left there for the night.

The ladder had clattered, bounced a few times, and come to rest a few feet from the wall. I couldn’t see it too clearly, but then neither would he if he came into the room. What little moonlight there was came from a trio of small round windows high on the wall.

Vera shifted her weight slightly, trying to feel secure—if not comfortable—twenty feet above the floor on a chandelier that shivered, groaned, and threatened to give way. We sat across from each other like two kids sharing a swing. Her legs were draped over mine and our hands clung to the pole that served to secure the mass of tinkling glass to the ceiling.

“Don’t move,” I whispered. If we didn’t keep still, the tinkling would give us away if he came into the room. There was no electricity in this wing of the San Francisco Metropolitan Opera Building. It had been turned off for the renovation and repairs. He had a flashlight, but I was praying he wouldn’t think of turning it upward unless we gave ourselves away.

He had a gun. It might take him four or five shots to dislodge us. If the shots didn’t kill us, the fall would. And if the fall didn’t, he’d be waiting for us with a choice of workmen’s tools. I remembered how creative he had already proven himself on more than one victim in the past two days. I was beginning to think my choice of hiding places might not be a good one.

“It won’t hold us, Toby,” Vera whispered.

“It’ll hold,” I said with confidence, ignoring the creaking sound above and the fact that we suddenly dropped about an inch as the fixture’s mooring sagged. More plaster falling. More tinkling of the glass doo-dads of the chandelier. Somewhere beyond the room an echoing of footsteps.

“Don’t move,” I repeated. “Don’t talk. Try not to breathe.”

The footsteps moved closer and I could hear him singing in Italian.

“It’s from Tosca,” Vera informed me. “He’s singing Scarpia’s aria of joy at torturing people in his secret room.”

“Sounds like a fun opera,” I whispered. “No more talking.”

I wanted to reassure her, lean over and kiss her, hold her, but … the footsteps were drowned out by the singing; the voice was coming closer. I held my breath as the singing stopped. Silence. A long, cold silence and somewhere outside a distant car horn.

The first workmen would probably return to the room about eight or nine. I didn’t know what time it was. Even if a beam of moonlight from one of the round windows hit my wrist, the watch I’d inherited from my old man would be no help. It never told the right time. It kept running, I’ll give it that, but it had no interest in the time. Then I remembered the police had my watch. We were, in any case, a good three hours from the reasonable hope of any help.

The door below us burst open dramatically.

He sang something in Italian. Vera shuddered slightly, just slightly, as he stepped in. His voice, I hoped, covered the tinkling above him.

The flashlight beam touched the wall ahead. I didn’t turn my head to look, just moved my eyes. The beam swept across wallpaper covered with little fat angels. Half the wall had been cleaned. Clean angels smirked at the still dirty ones. The beam moved left. His voice dropped. He was singing to himself now, with less of the confidence of the earlier aria.

I knew what he was thinking. He had to find us. The odds were in his favor. We were trapped in this wing of the old Opera building in San Francisco. The situation was simple. He had to kill us. If he didn’t, we’d turn him in.

The beam kept moving. I had to turn my head slowly, slowly. The beam fell on the paint cans, brushes, and the ladder. The singing stopped as the beam went over the ladder, up and down, caressing it, considering it. And then he turned, his feet crunching fallen plaster, his beam searching the floor. I sensed he was directly below us.

He turned again, began to sing again, and moved to the door. The flashlight went out and the door closed.

Vera let out a very small sigh and took in dusty air. I did the same.

“I don’t know if I can hold on till morning,” she whispered.

“You won’t have to.” The voice came from below as a circle of light caught the thousands of pieces of glass and sent a rippling shadow over Vera’s frightened face.

He laughed, a musical laugh, and I reached over to touch Vera’s face as the laugh continued.

“Hold tight,” I said to her.

My plan was simple, stupid, and almost certainly doomed to failure. I’d let go of the chandelier and jump toward the beam in the hope of landing on him. At this height I’d probably miss. Even if I hit him, I’d be lucky to survive even if he didn’t shoot me on the way down. I had just turned forty-six years old. My back was weak and I was tired.

“Let’s make a deal,” I called down to him.

He laughed harder.

“You have nothing to deal with,” he said. “Nothing. Niente. Nada. No.”

He started to move. Whatever chance I had would be gone if he moved out from under us to where I couldn’t reach him.

“Tell me a story, a lie,” he said, clearly enjoying himself. “Our Miss Tenatti can help you. Operas are filled with them. You left a secret note under the third stone step in front of the building identifying me as the Phantom. You confessed to a monk, a lawyer, a nun, who upon your death will denounce me. Thou art the man,” he bellowed musically.

“What have you to trade for your lives? What will you give me? What?” he went on. “Your legacy? Title? Vera, you know the convention. Why don’t you offer me your undying devotion in exchange for your lover’s life? Then, later, you can kill yourself. I tell you both, this should be put to music. I hope you live long enough when you fall to say something. It would be too much to hope that Vera would be in good enough shape to sing one final aria as she lies dying in my arms. Roméo et Juliette would be fine. You know it, don’t you, Vera?”

“Bastard,” Vera shrieked in anger, setting the chandelier into frightened vibration.

“Assassino,” he responded. “Call me everything. Sing to me one last time. We’ll write a new end to the last act. Pinkerton finding Cio-cio-san dead of hari-kari took his own life in remorse, and I will sing the final aria over your bodies. Don’t worry. I’ll make it sad, poignant. A lament. Now what would be … Lucia. Yes. Lucia.”

He shifted slightly. I’d have to jump soon. The circle of light hit the wall again. The cherubs were laughing at us. I didn’t think he was close enough.

He was singing again.

“Lucia?” I asked.

“No,” said Vera, “Canio’s lament after he kills the lovers Nedda and Silvio.”

Vera looked at me, saw me looking down, saw me let go with my left hand, sensed what I planned.

“I have one request,” she said dramatically.

He stopped singing again.

“A last request,” he said, intrigued.

“Come closer please,” she said with a tear in her voice.

He moved closer, below us.

“Yes,” he said. “You recall the last line of I Pagliacci? Canio says, ‘The comedy is over.’”

“If I must die,” said Vera, “let it be in silence rather than to the sound of a second-rate baritone who has neither resonance nor soul.”

That did it. The flashlight beam probed through the glass, found us. The first shot shattered, sprayed. Bits of glass spewed, flew. Vera covered her eyes with one hand but she didn’t scream. The bullet hit the chain of metal holding the chandelier, screamed, and thudded into the ceiling. My hand tingled from the vibration of the chain. Not much time. I took a fix on where he should be and let go.

My chest brushed the outside of the glass and played a tune as I fell. I could tell almost the instant I let go that there was no chance of my landing within two yards of the man who meant to kill us.

He bellowed with delight and the building shook.

Chapter 2

It all started on a Friday in mid-December 1942. A woman who identified herself as Lorna Bartholomew called. Behind her a dog was yapping. The woman said, “Miguelito, be quiet,” asked me if I was free to come to San Francisco immediately to take on an “assignment.” The dog kept yapping.

It was raining in Los Angeles when she called. I’d been sitting in my office in the Farraday Building, looking out the window, feeling sorry for myself. Before the war I used to sail paper airplanes out the window on rainy days and watch them fight the elements on their way to the alleyway six floors below. But paper was scarce now. Kids collected it, tied it in bundles, and brought it to school in their wagons to contribute to the war effort. SAVE WASTE PAPER a khaki-uniformed soldier on a billboard told us as we drove down Wilshire. The soldier on the billboard had his arm around a little boy whose wagon was piled high with old copies of and the L.A. .

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!