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Staged for Murder
cover art © Tamian Wood



Violinist Julia Kogan, having survived murderous mayhem at the Santa Fe Opera, heads to the San Francisco Opera with her significant other, former NYPD detective Larry Somers, and their five-year-old daughter Rachel. There, Julia finds that fiery artistic temperaments can still result in murder.


Book Excerpt



Staged for Murder


Erica Miner





Beyond the vastness of a northern California university stadium pulsating with opera music, the Bay Area fog hovered in the night air above the hills far off to the west. Overhead, a silver half-moon hung in the sky, unobstructed by clouds and uninterrupted by wind.

A realm unto itself, the magical Opera Wonderland existed as if in its own universe, without intervention from any worldly reality. The audience of thousands, their hearts wrenched by the plaintive tones of an anguished, long-suffering clown, sat mesmerized as streaks of mist began to obscure the moon’s light.

In a remote corner of the stadium, a lone figure lingered in the shadows: contemplating, considering… and waiting.

Chapter 1

Present Day


Das Licht lösch ich euch aus,

entreiße dem Riff das Gold,
schmiede den rachenden Ring

I extinguish your light,

seize the gold from the rock,
and forge the vengeful ring

Wagner, Das Rheingold, Scene One

They were crossing the street now. He could see them, so involved in their opera talk that they weren’t paying attention.


Everyone knew that the corner of Franklin and McAllister, the nearest main crossing to the stage door of San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House, was one of the busiest in the entire Civic Center district; especially at twilight, when people were leaving work. Once the gilded California light began to wane, it was sometimes hard to see where one was going—or to perceive what and who might be in the immediate vicinity.

Performers from the Opera could not avoid crossing that intersection multiple times, day and night. Pedestrian accidents were not that common there, but they did happen.

Common enough.

With the driver’s seat window open, he could hear fragments of their conversation. How he despised that voice; the voice of an operatic tenor who was so arrogant, so full of himself, that he strode about the stage as if he owned it; that he looked down on anyone who wasn’t an opera star like himself.

Especially me.

Andres the tenor spoke as he sang: as if he were telling the world that he, Andres, was the gods’ gift to opera. He strutted around, owning, claiming the stage—and every other opera stage in the world—for himself.

He doesn’t deserve to be a star. Maestro Merola, our sainted founder, would never have put up with such egregious affectation.

But Maestro Merola had been taken from the company much too soon.

The Maestro was a saint—a saint who didn’t deserve to die before his time.

He wiped away a tear. Then, remembering the afternoon’s rehearsal, he clenched his teeth. The repulsive behavior Andres exhibited that day proved he had not changed one whit since his previous engagement years ago with the company. Arguing with the stage director, the conductor. He still spoke as if he existed in some lofty echelon miles above everyone else, in some kind of Valhalla of his own making.

That bastard. The world will be a better place without him.

The traffic signal changed to yellow, and he could see that Andres and Ben were only halfway across the intersection.


Their light turned red, and his turned green. It was time. Bearing down on the accelerator he hugged the right lane, trying to aim for Andres without hitting Ben. He had no gripe with Ben, but if he became collateral damage, well…


It would be a shame. But sometimes sacrifices must be made for the greater good: getting rid of Andres once and for all.

The impact was swift and hard. He felt the thud of metal striking skin and muscle and bone. He didn’t look back, just raced through the intersection, weaving through cars, heading straight north on Franklin. He wasn’t concerned about onlookers looking up Franklin in his direction. The street’s incline was relatively steep around Opera Plaza, and he knew any potential witnesses would not be able to see much further ahead. Once he cleared their line of vision, he would be out of sight.

Bristling with tension, he wiped one clammy palm, then the other, on his jacket. He quickly glanced around. No one seemed to be following him, and traffic ahead was light, as he had hoped. He could slow down and act normal.

He was home free.

Would the “accident” be featured on KTVU Evening News? In the headlines, tomorrow morning?

He relished the thought that when he returned to the opera house the next day, voices would be buzzing with theories about who could possibly have wanted to harm Andres Aaberg, the great Wagnerian tenor.

Who indeed?





Author Bio

Former Metropolitan Opera Orchestra violinist Erica Miner is an award-winning author, screenwriter, arts writer and lecturer. Her novels and screenplays have won awards in recognized competitions. Her lectures, seminars and workshops on writing and on opera have received kudos on both coasts and on major cruise lines. She is an active contributor to numerous arts websites.

TTB titles: Death by Opera
Murder in the Pit

Author web site.




Death by Opera Copyright © 2020. Erica Miner. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.



  Author News


Praise for Murder in the Pit

"...Murder in the Pit is an adventure of the imagination, a play within a play. ...[Miner] has recreated in a fascinating operatic world a tangle of plot twists whose intricacies ultimately unravel to reveal the prose of an author who is sure of her skills."
Valerio Massimo Manfredi, author of The Ancient Curse (Macmillan Publishers Ltd., July 2010), The Ides of March and The Lost Army.

"...As a lover of classical music and a patron of Tanglewood when I was younger, I was extremely happy with all the in-depth knowledge that Ms. Miner has delivered. She was actually a violinist at the Met, so she certainly knows the world of which she speaks. Because of this background, as well as quick-witted writing, Ms. Miner has put together a very solid mystery with a cast of characters who were an absolute joy to read."
Reviewed by Amy Lignor for


  Praise for Death by Opera

"Erica Miner is the Agatha Christie of the opera world. More than a romp for opera buffs, Death by Opera is a wickedly wonderful, fast-paced thriller: a historically informative and illuminating "whodunit" interweaving ancient legends, ghost stories and present-day jealousies into a murder mystery of taut suspense playing out at Santa Fe's world-renowned summer opera festival.
~ Richard Stilwell, former Metropolitan Opera baritone and teacher/lecturer at the Chicago College of Performing Arts of Roosevelt University (retired)





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