Opera singers are often described as being larger than life, and certainly this is true of Gaylene Ffrench. Her appetites?for men, for food, for attention?are gargantuan, and her ability to irritate is similarly outsized. So when someone electrocutes the bombastic Australian contralto, few tears are shed at the Northern Opera Company (though it’s a pity her understudy’s so lousy). In fact, most of the company members are dancing a jig, and it falls on Superintendent Nichols to determine which of them might have helped Gaylene along to her just reward. The black tenor tired of being the butt of Gaylene’s bigotry? The soprano weary of jealous whispers in her ears? Gaylene’s many bedroom conquests, all anxious to avoid a repeat performance? With so many potential suspects, Nichols has his hands full, but Barnard and his readers have a deliciously malicious good time.
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