Aspiring conductor and amateur sleuth Cressa Carraway returns for a second installment of music and murder in this fast-paced mystery from author Kaye George.
Fresh out of grad school, Cressa lands her dream job as conductor of a fledgling ensemble in Minnesota that aspires to grow into a major orchestra. Leaving her psychic friend Neek, boyfriend Daryl, and DePaul University behind, she quickly starts to wonder what she’s gotten herself into.
Cressa’s new friendship with the first chair violinist of the ensemble, Maddy Streete, gives her an opportunity to sing in a dysfunctional church choir, but also leads to an organist gig in the church across the street. While playing the organ helps supplement her meager conducting salary, it places her in empty churches more often than she’d like, forcing her to deal with homeless vagrants, drug paraphernalia—and corpses.
As she tries to make sense out of everything, Cressa digs deeper into the lives of her fellow musicians and newfound friends to uncover swirling currents of hatred, old wounds, bitter resentments—and unexpected information about the suspicious deaths of her own musician parents so many years ago.
Can Cressa sort out the clues before she becomes the next victim?
“Author Kaye George continues to craft reliably entertaining and rewarding reads. Although this is the second Cressa Carraway mystery, it definitely can be read as the starting point in Cressa’s career. The challenges and duties of a promising conductor are probably new to most readers; in fact, her responsibilities as the leader of her musicians prove to be as intriguing as the actual murders themselves. The fates of the Minnesota churchgoers all swiftly coalesce into satisfying and realistic conclusions.” — Cynthia Chow, Kings River Life magazine
“Kaye George plays a twisting score in Requiem in Red, conducting us through intrigue and murder in two church musical communities to a surprising and suspenseful climax. You’ll love this new Cressa Carraway mystery.” — Edith Maxwell, Agatha-nominated author, Quaker Midwife Mysteries and Local Foods Mysteries
“A standing ovation for Requiem in Red! Conductor Cressa Carraway’s musical journey continues with a move to Minnesota, intrigue, and murder. Kaye George hits all the right notes as she deftly pits Cressa’s experience as the new kid on a very dysfunctional block against a mostly new cast of characters. Everyone is viewed with equal suspicion in a plot where nothing is exactly as it appears to be on the surface.” — Judy Penz Sheluk, author, The Hanged Man’s Noose
“Kaye George weaves music and murder into a gripping combination. Intimately familiar with the world of classical and ecclesiastical music, her loving look at the way churches work and familiarity with the landscape makes readers feel like they are looking over Cressa’s shoulder the whole time.” — KB Inglee, author, The Case Book of Emily Lawrence
These links were provided to online performances of the musical pieces mentioned in Requiem in Red. If you’d like to get an idea of the mood suggested by them, you can just listen to a few measures. But if you have the time, author Kaye George says they are all worth hearing in their entirety.
|Orchestral Suite #2 in B minor||Johann Sebastian Bach|
|Rondo alla Turka||Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart|
|Trout Quintet||Franz Schubert|
|Prayer from Hansel and Gretel||Englebert Humperdinck|
|Für Elise||Ludwig van Beethoven|
|Hymn of Promise||Natalie Sleeth|
|Trouble in River City from The Music Man||Meredith Wilson|
|Seventy-Six Trombones from The Music Man||Meredith Wilson|
|Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring||Johann Sebastian Bach|
|Lord of the Dance||Methodist hymn (261)|
|This Is My Song||Methodist hymn (437)|
|There Is a Balm in Gilead||Methodist hymn (375)|
|Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies||Presbyterian hymn (47)|
|I to the Hills Will Lift My Eyes||Presbyterian hymn (377)|
|Jesus Christ is Risen Today||Presbyterian hymn (204)|
|The Lord Ascendeth Up on High||Presbyterian hymn (212)|
I glanced in the tiny, cracked mirror that hung just inside the stage curtain. My straps weren’t showing. My plain brown hair lay reasonably compliant, and there was no food in my teeth. Examining myself in mirrors was unusual behavior for me. But then again, this wasn’t a usual night.
The voice onstage droned on and on. “…our own. She’s studied hard and achieved stellar grades in the music graduate program here at DePaul University. This piece is her first chance to conduct a full symphony playing her own original composition in front of a live audience.”
The announcer thundered the last phrase. “And so I ask you to welcome, Cressa Carraway!”
My introduction had ended. The polite, mildly-interested applause had died out. It was time.
I squared my shoulders and stepped into the footlights, squinting a bit at the harsh glare. This was my debut. The moment I’d waited years for. Just past the curtain, I paused and gave the audience a slight bow, then continued to the podium. Thank God I didn’t trip climbing onto it. I hoped they wouldn’t be able to see my heart thumping through my new black dress.
I gave another nod, this one to the concert mistress, who rose and cued the oboe to give the pure 440 concert A. After the orchestra was tuned and the first violin player was reseated, I opened the score to the first page and picked up the baton.
Fifty-four eyes bored into mine, waiting.
Deep breath. Another one.
The baton shook slightly in my hand, but not too bad.
I was about to conduct the symphony I’d written for my master’s thesis in music composition. I’d named it “Affirmation” and dedicated it to Gram—my grandmother—who had encouraged me to pursue the career I wanted in classical music. Gram was dead, but she would live through my music. I drew one more breath, let a nervous smile spread across my face, and started conducting.
Time receded and the music took over. There was nothing but the music, and it was happening. My music was happening!
Half an hour later, the three-movement piece was done.
I cut off the final chord with a flick of my wrist. My hands no longer shook. The baton was steady. I gave the orchestra a grin to show my appreciation and turned to face the audience.
In the split second after I turned, paralyzing fear spun my mind in whirls. What if they didn’t applaud? What if they hated it? Would anyone boo? That half-second took an eternity. My public face, I was sure, looked like a Halloween house mask—a stiff grimace below widened, frightened eyes.
Then the sound of clapping started. I relaxed my face muscles into something more human. Three people in the first row jumped to their feet and many followed suit. One person yelled, “Brava,” then another.
I bowed twice, then stretched my hand out to include the musicians in the ovation. What a great feeling!
It was over. I had premiered. I had debuted. I had done it. Cressa Carraway was a symphony orchestra conductor.
# # #
Maddy Streete studied the thin young woman who had been holding her wine glass for at least fifteen minutes without taking a sip. The woman hadn’t had a chance to get a plate of goodies either. The long table held chocolate-dipped strawberries, grapes, petit fours, and other delicacies Maddy hadn’t even explored yet.
Poor thing, thought Maddy.
Maddy watched Ms. Carraway, who wasn’t imposing, like some conductors. She was unremarkable looking, medium height, medium-brown hair. But she was as poised as she had been at the podium while she accepted congratulations on her success in the auditorium tonight. Maddy made her way across the reception room in the lower level of the concert hall. As she reached the conductor, two of the people around her left, leaving Maddy a clear field.
“Hi, I’m Maddy, Madison Streete.” Maddy stuck out her hand and they shook. Cressa’s hand was cold, but her grip was sure.
“I’m sorry for my cold hands. Madison Streete?” Cressa looked confused.
“I know.” Maddy laughed. “I’m not sure what possessed me to marry a man named Streete. I sound like I should be driven on in downtown Chicago when I use my full name. My name has an extra ‘e’ on the end, so I’m not exactly the street.”
Cressa laughed. “I think it’s a great name, Madison. I was just trying to place you. You’re the one I wrote to about the job in Minnesota.”
“Please call me Maddy. Yes, and I’d like to talk about the job. Can we go somewhere to talk after this?”
Cressa looked apprehensive. “Sure, I’d love to.”
She doesn’t know if she’s going to be accepted or turned down, Maddy thought. Maddy smiled to set her at ease. “I like your style. Can you come to Minnetonka to audition?”
Maddy was glad she’d made the trip to Chicago to hear the concert. She had a feeling Cressa was just the person she needed.