The Hidden Auditorium
by Rosanne Dingli
Today we bring you an excerpt from The Hidden Auditorium. This is the fourth in our special feature on author Rosanne Dingli.
For more books by this author, please check out our previous blog posts: Death in Malta (blog post), According to Luke (blog post), and Camera Obscura (blog post).
Another exciting art heist novel featuring Prof Bryn Awbrey.
When Richard Wagner died in Venice in 1883, it was the end of a creative and tumultuous life. His family grieved, and the world lost a brilliant composer.
Nearly 130 years later, antiques dealer Nic Manton is led to a valuable pendant he feels provides a solution to his precarious finances. With no idea of its meaning or provenance, he is mystified why the pendant creates such fear and confusion, and aggravates rather than solves his problems. Its apparent owner is beautiful but erratic. She leads him from Rome to Venice and then to Malta, on a chase that becomes more perplexing and dangerous than it has to be. A melancholic widow and a brilliant but vague professor are willing to help. But Manton doubts whether they can.
Her eyes were slitted, her mouth hard, but it was only for a second, a glimpse. Tiana’s expression cleared suddenly into a bright face with a flashing smile, her eyes directed at Nic. ‘I’ve expected you for some time.’ Her hand fluttered at her throat. Her eyes moved upward, and they heard music upstairs.
Behind her, as she stood back and opened the door wider, an elaborate wrought iron banister curled upward around a wide flight of fanned stairs, where an arched window brought as much sunlight in as they left behind on the bastion.
Blinded for an instant, Nic said nothing but looked at Tiana’s slight figure, the high wedged sandals she wore with blue Capri pants, and a dazzling white top. Her blonde hair formed the usual curtain that swung as she moved.
It was unnerving. She had already done this, in another country, in another street just as old as this. It placed Nic at a disadvantage, to encounter a young woman who seemed to be in residence wherever she went. Another grand house in another grand city.
‘Hello, Nic. Welcome to my grandmother’s house.’
‘Ah! This might explain a lot.’ Bryn Awbrey nodded his large head and stood at the foot of the grand staircase, looking up. ‘Tell us, please. We’re mystified. We’re here seeking Mrs Grixti. The owner …’
‘… of Grixti’s, in St Lucy Street. My grandmother.’
There was a pause. Someone moved at the top of the stairs and they all looked up.
‘My name is Erminia Borbonese Grixti. Please come up.’
The excerpt scene takes place inside one of these terraced houses
on St Barbara Bastion, Valletta, Malta
on St Barbara Bastion, Valletta, Malta
Praise for the Book
"In The Hidden Auditorium Rosanne Dingli offers another master class in mystery writing. It takes a vibrant imagination and special skill to run two stories in parallel and keep the reader's attention, but she manages it again with this brilliant book. Some of her characters we have met before in According to Luke, but this doesn't detract for they wrap themselves around you like a comfort blanket as she creates a world full of uncertainty and menace. [...] Her knowledge and detailed research of the locations and history bring each stage of the stories to life in vivid colour. Her descriptive power lets you feel you know the locations as you hear the sounds of the streets, smell the fetid stench of the canals, and feel the damp seeping through crumbling old stone walls in palazzos long past their glory. At the same time her style generates an urgency to find out what happens next, which will keep you reading to the end. Dingli's denouement amounts to a thriller in itself, with already discounted events resurfacing and piling new discoveries one on another. There is always something new to find and she maintains the tension right to the end, leaving you with an intriguing twist in her last breath. This book should win prizes and its author should be far better known than she appears to be." ~ Ian Mathie
"The Hidden Auditorium by Rosanne Dingl, internationally known author from Australia, is categorized as a mystery, but it definitely is not your father's murder mystery. It is literary, has believable, real characters, whose motivations and thought processes are important to the story. It has a story line that you will have trouble putting down. I have already had dreams about two of the characters. It even has romance. What's more, you will learn about Venice, Malta, Rome and lots about ancient art. The main character, antique dealer Nic Manton finds himself in possession of a remarkable 19th century pendant that he thinks will solve his financial problems. Unfortunately, it came with a young woman who will cause him more problems than financial. The pendant involves a perplexing secret about a famous composer's life and works. Trying to solve the mystery plunges Nic into danger. The book tells us about classical music, old jewelry and classic art. The twists and turns of the plot will tantalize traditional mystery lovers, and the beautifully written prose will appeal to literary devotees. This is Ms. Dingl's fourth novel. I have read them all, and each one is better than the previous one. I can hardly wait for the next one. Don't miss The Hidden Auditorium." ~ Boyd Lemon
"It is not often that I can find one book that fulfills many of my requirements: well-written, educational, musical, artistic, strong plot, historical interludes, creepy stalker, surprise ending, likable characters and a dash of romance. The Hidden Auditorium makes me feel that Rosanne Dingli wrote it especially for me! It is a wonderful story with lots to ponder about the composer Wagner, mental illness, and marriage. Location is also somewhat important, so I enjoyed reading about Malta, a country encountered in the pages of Pynchon's V when young. Just the word 'Malta' evokes a magically floating island in Avalon-like mists. I look forward to reading Dingli's other Maltese books." ~ Clarissa Simmens
"Rosanne Dingli has once again confirmed why I am such a fan. The Hidden Auditorium is a mystery. That’s true. But it is so much more. Dingli has created a fresh new recipe for mystery that makes it hard to keep it neatly tucked into that box. There is the mandatory puzzle, some danger for spice, even a dash of fatal attraction. But what make this so special are the added ingredients of art history, travel to exotic places such as Venice, Rome and Malta, fabulous jewels, music and well researched connections to real history. Even the food is interesting and made my mouth water. These elements set it several cuts above other mysteries I have read. Her characters grow and change in real ways that lead us to become invested in what happens to them. The result is a delicious, rich escape into a world most of us can only dream of. Find out what a jaded antiques dealer, a beautiful widow, an elderly art historian, a bitter, wealthy Jew, a deranged stalker, Hitler and Wagner have in common. Now there’s a mystery to grab you and hold you until you understand it all. It did me." ~ Yvonne Hertzberger
"The Hidden Auditorium is a captivating novel, in which the past, casts in an aura of mystery, horror and foreboding is slowly revealed though fast-paced and unexpected twists and turns taking place in the present. It is a mystery, a romance, and a reinterpretation of a composer’s life, all brilliantly researched and wrapped up in an original plot that keeps one spellbound to the end, not only because of the evocative passages dealing with classical music and the aura of Venice in the 19th century, but also because of two completely unexpected revelations, one romantic and the other related to music and history itself. Refreshing to read something so different and yet truly original!" ~ Hugo
About the Author
Sought by an international audience for prize-winning short stories and intricate novels, Rosanne Dingli has published fiction successfully for over 25 years. Most of her body of work is available in paperback and ebook.
This author's fiction centres around the classical Arts, such as painting, music, and literature. She also uses locations and their allure to anchor her stories and give them substance.
Rosanne is the author of a number of books, including The Hidden Auditorium, Camera Obscura, and According to Luke. She is now writing full-time after retiring from teaching in 2009. Her out-of-print short fiction and poetry is once more available in handy easy-to-read volumes that do not cost the earth.
To sample Rosanne's writing, download a FREE copy of The Red Volkswagen and Other Stories by Rosanne Dingli from B&N, iTunes, Kobo, or Smashwords.