“The Augusta McKee Mysteries” are unique in that each has music as part of the plot, but in different ways. The first book, The Case of the Slain Soprano, took place on a college campus while preparing for the performance of an operetta, The Pirates of Penzance. This is where Augusta met Cincinnati Homicide Detective Malcolm Mitchell, the other half of our sleuthing team. In the second book of the series, The Case of the Disappearing Director, the story’s setting expands to include members of a Mafia family in the nearby town of Newport, Kentucky. All this while Augusta was directing a “ghostly” opera workshop production at the other college where she teaches, The Conservatory.
Book Three, The Case of the Toxic Tenor, took us into another side of Augusta’s musical world, this time as a performer at Cincinnati’s famed Music Hall in the opera Carmen. The story began when the tenor died onstage during the performance! In Book Four, The Case of the Purloined Professor, the Mafia element reappeared when the kingpin of the Ponti family abducted Augusta and the FBI joined with the CPD in searching for her.
With Book Five, The Case of the Chrysanthemum Murders, the mystery went far beyond Cincinnati, all the way to Europe, and we learned about Russians planting spies in this country. The Russians trained citizens to “become” Americans by having them spend time in towns that were typical American towns, then sent them into this country by way of Toronto. They received new identities and lived among us for years without anyone suspecting them. An international mystery!
Then we explored the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic in Book 6, The Case of the Unearthed Evidence, when Augusta and Mal’s new dog, Fritz, discovered human bones in a neighbor’s yard. The investigation took us back in time to find out who the bones belonged to and how they got there. Augusta performed in a production of the musical Carousel at the Pocono Playhouse in Pennsylvania in The Case of the ‘Carousel’ Killer (Book 7), and we learned about the history of coal mining in this country and the lives of miners as the industry declined.
A disastrous Beatles concert in Cincinnati in August of 1966 (true story) set up Book 8, The Case of the Bogus Beatle. Another kidnapping, and this time Augusta got a chance to play an almost real detective! The Case of the Casanova Cantor, Book 9, established that the McKee Mysteries are unique. It went way outside the guidelines for cozy mysteries by using all the unrest that had begun to develop in this country during the 1960s, even as Augusta directed a production of the opera The Magic Flute.
But wait—there’s more to come. Book 10, The Case of the Ill-Fated Philanthropist, captures the essence of 1968, marked by its many challenges and changes. Despite the turbulence, the story reminds us that there is always more to come—more hope, progress, and opportunities for growth and transformation.
Author of the Augusta McKee Mystery Series