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Funeral Music

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To the ancient Romans, the healing waters of Bath belonged to the goddess Minerva. Today they belong to the gods of commerce, as tourists teem, shops prosper, and the incense of gourmet food rises to the English skies. Among the throng is Sara Selkirk, a world-class cellist who came undone in a Paris performance. For Sara, taking a break from performing has given her a cha To the ancient Romans, the healing waters of Bath belonged to the goddess Minerva. Today they belong to the gods of commerce, as tourists teem, shops prosper, and the incense of gourmet food rises to the English skies. Among the throng is Sara Selkirk, a world-class cellist who came undone in a Paris performance. For Sara, taking a break from performing has given her a chance to look at what’s missing from her life– and even at a case of murder.… The killing occurred in the famous Roman Baths, and the victim was the museum’s director. Knowing several people close to the investigation–from a potential suspect to a detective who cajoled her into giving him cello lessons–Sara discovers a talent for making sense of things. But like a Bach fugue, the pattern she grasps is more complex than it seems. And as she moves down a trail strewn with secrets and damaged lives, a chilling story begins to emerge: of greed, envy–and a killer performance that may not be quite finished yet.


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To the ancient Romans, the healing waters of Bath belonged to the goddess Minerva. Today they belong to the gods of commerce, as tourists teem, shops prosper, and the incense of gourmet food rises to the English skies. Among the throng is Sara Selkirk, a world-class cellist who came undone in a Paris performance. For Sara, taking a break from performing has given her a cha To the ancient Romans, the healing waters of Bath belonged to the goddess Minerva. Today they belong to the gods of commerce, as tourists teem, shops prosper, and the incense of gourmet food rises to the English skies. Among the throng is Sara Selkirk, a world-class cellist who came undone in a Paris performance. For Sara, taking a break from performing has given her a chance to look at what’s missing from her life– and even at a case of murder.… The killing occurred in the famous Roman Baths, and the victim was the museum’s director. Knowing several people close to the investigation–from a potential suspect to a detective who cajoled her into giving him cello lessons–Sara discovers a talent for making sense of things. But like a Bach fugue, the pattern she grasps is more complex than it seems. And as she moves down a trail strewn with secrets and damaged lives, a chilling story begins to emerge: of greed, envy–and a killer performance that may not be quite finished yet.

30 review for Funeral Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeannie and Louis Rigod

    This novel is not a cozy as I usually read, but not too gruesome, other than one scene described that almost had me in tears, this novel is just an example of excellent writing. A complex mystery that will have you wondering at the twists and turns and thrilled by the tying up of all the 'loose ends.' A world renowned cellist, Sara Selkirk, lives in Bath, England and is desperately trying to achieve a sense of emotional healing from the loss of her lover. Not able to face crowds nor play Bach as This novel is not a cozy as I usually read, but not too gruesome, other than one scene described that almost had me in tears, this novel is just an example of excellent writing. A complex mystery that will have you wondering at the twists and turns and thrilled by the tying up of all the 'loose ends.' A world renowned cellist, Sara Selkirk, lives in Bath, England and is desperately trying to achieve a sense of emotional healing from the loss of her lover. Not able to face crowds nor play Bach as her agent desires, Sara contents herself playing at various venues such as the famous Pump Room. Unknown to Sara, she is about to become connected with several persons living quite secret lives. When the murder of the new Director of Museums is found murdered the following morning after her performance, Sara finds herself running into persons that may have had something to do with the killing. I really do not want to describe the encounters as they are so complex and compelling, it would lessen your enjoyment of the novel. Let me just say, Morag Joss is a force of nature in the mystery genre. The characters are so intricately drawn and the dialog so natural that you feel you might have known them. The settings are both historical and modern. The situations are all too ancient and twenty-first Century. It all adds up to a chilling, realistic murder mystery combined with other illegal activities and all too human situations. This is a book I'd easily recommend to solid murder mystery readers.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Sara Selkirk, a cellist, removed to Bath after melting down in a Paris performance. She witnesses the museum director's floating corpse the morning after a charity performance at the Pump Room. Plenty of persons possessed a motive, as Sara herself witnessed the previous evening. Detective Sergeant Bridger and DCI Andrew Poole investigate. Selkirk knows Andrew as her cello student. The plot, especially the ending, was a bit weak in this combination cozy/police procedural novel. I think changing t Sara Selkirk, a cellist, removed to Bath after melting down in a Paris performance. She witnesses the museum director's floating corpse the morning after a charity performance at the Pump Room. Plenty of persons possessed a motive, as Sara herself witnessed the previous evening. Detective Sergeant Bridger and DCI Andrew Poole investigate. Selkirk knows Andrew as her cello student. The plot, especially the ending, was a bit weak in this combination cozy/police procedural novel. I think changing the voice from Sara to Poole, setting the book firmly in the police procedural genre, would strengthen the novel. I liked the novel okay, but probably not enough to continue with the series.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    Funeral Music by Morag Joss is an example of the sub-genre of mysteries where a crime is solved not by a cop or a detective, but rather, by an amateur who has nothing to do with such things by profession. Or in this case, interest: in fact, the heroine du jour, Sara Selkirk, is a concert cellist. That's what drew me to this book in the first place, thinking that I like cello music and I like mysteries, so how can I go wrong? Wishful thinking, unfortunately. You know that Point of View panel I pos Funeral Music by Morag Joss is an example of the sub-genre of mysteries where a crime is solved not by a cop or a detective, but rather, by an amateur who has nothing to do with such things by profession. Or in this case, interest: in fact, the heroine du jour, Sara Selkirk, is a concert cellist. That's what drew me to this book in the first place, thinking that I like cello music and I like mysteries, so how can I go wrong? Wishful thinking, unfortunately. You know that Point of View panel I posted about at Writer's Weekend, the one that opined that a book should stay away from head-hopping? This book does that. It's only a little scattered at first, generally good about having hard scene breaks before jumping into somebody else's head, and with only occasional bits where this is broken. But towards the end, where the heroine comes extremely close to getting offed by the killer, we suddenly get a scene where the POV jumps back and forth between heroine and killer with every paragraph. Part of me can see why the author wrote it this way: it does lend the scene a certain immediacy that you wouldn't get if you had only the heroine's POV and then the killer's, or vice versa. But because the heroine never knows that the killer is there, and because each paragraph winds up being a dump of the characters' inner thoughts without making them really interact, it really wound up reading exactly like a MUSH roleplay log. A pretty well written one, mind you, but a roleplay log nonetheless. And that really kind of took me out of the story. The second beef I have with the book is purely a matter of personal taste rather than any fault of the writing, but it's one that took enjoyment out of it for me anyway: to wit, the heroine has a growing relationship with a man who's already married and who has children. This is certainly plausible in this day and age, and I will grant that Joss does not shirk from awareness that this will have its consequences if it is allowed to continue. But for me, anyway, it's just not fun to read about that. I went through enough of that growing up that I prefer to avoid it in my reading. Last but not least, I have an issue with the heroine Sara falling apart and turning into a big blubbering mess in the climactic scene where she confronts one of the people responsible for the first death in the book. She has a very,very good reason to wig out--the other party is threatening to sever the tendons of her right hand and ruin her ability to play ever again, which I absolutely buy as terrifying for a musician. Yet it was grating to see Sara do nothing but freeze up and whine, and furthermore have to be rescued from the situation by the Big Strong Man. Overall, aside from the head-hopping thing, I did kind of like the writing. Joss has a decent command of the language and filled in some nice little nuances in her characters. Problem was, I just didn't like most of those people very much, and was therefore ultimately unsatisfied by the story. Two and a half stars.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gaynor

    I suppose it makes the author Morag Joss feel superior, when she has a character from Australia make an ignorant comment about a classic English novel. To make matters worse she has the elderly male character who relies on his Australian nurse, make snide remarks about her behind her back, based solely on her nationality. Ms Joss needs to refrain from racist depictions if she wants to sell books anywhere except in stuffy England.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Linda Frances

    I don't remember who recommended this book to me years ago, but it wasn't readily available, and I forgot about it. Someone else mentioned it recently, so I checked out the ebook version. This is a hard book to rate. As a mystery, I would rate it 2 stars, but as literary fiction, I'd give it 5. It is a mystery because there's a murder, but the focus is on cellist Sara Selkirk, her friends and acquaintances. I wasn't sure I liked Sara at first, but she grew on me. I loved James, and felt tremendou I don't remember who recommended this book to me years ago, but it wasn't readily available, and I forgot about it. Someone else mentioned it recently, so I checked out the ebook version. This is a hard book to rate. As a mystery, I would rate it 2 stars, but as literary fiction, I'd give it 5. It is a mystery because there's a murder, but the focus is on cellist Sara Selkirk, her friends and acquaintances. I wasn't sure I liked Sara at first, but she grew on me. I loved James, and felt tremendous sympathy for Andrew. Joss's command of the English language is so impressive. Her descriptions of people and places are amazing. Most of the humor is understated and/or ironic, but a couple of things had me laughing out loud. There were many times I just got lost in the prose. The ending was disappointing, but I definitely want to read more by Joss.

  6. 4 out of 5

    anx

    I don't know why this is still in print... So much toxic misogynist shit in here. I didn't like or identify with the protagonist at all and the plot was not that interesting. The most disturbing probably is the graphic description of two children that have gone missing and then were found horribly mutilated and raped -- but had nothing to do with the story at all. The book did not need these paragraphs. Is this somehow relevant to a sequel? All I know is that I'm extremely disappointed and I won' I don't know why this is still in print... So much toxic misogynist shit in here. I didn't like or identify with the protagonist at all and the plot was not that interesting. The most disturbing probably is the graphic description of two children that have gone missing and then were found horribly mutilated and raped -- but had nothing to do with the story at all. The book did not need these paragraphs. Is this somehow relevant to a sequel? All I know is that I'm extremely disappointed and I won't read the follow-up books. Or anything else by this author. This is probably the worst book I have read in a really long time.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Heroine is a cellist - what more do I need to say?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Funeral Music is the introductory volume to the Sara Selkirk Mysteries. Sara is a world renowned cellist who has lost her will to perform following the sudden death of her husband. But that is not the mystery in Funeral Music. Sara's well meaning friend and accompanist, James, cajoles her into playing a charity concert at Bath's famous Pump Room, after which she makes a horrifying discovery. Someone has stabbed to death the museum curator, dumping his corpse into the Roman baths, and Sara is the Funeral Music is the introductory volume to the Sara Selkirk Mysteries. Sara is a world renowned cellist who has lost her will to perform following the sudden death of her husband. But that is not the mystery in Funeral Music. Sara's well meaning friend and accompanist, James, cajoles her into playing a charity concert at Bath's famous Pump Room, after which she makes a horrifying discovery. Someone has stabbed to death the museum curator, dumping his corpse into the Roman baths, and Sara is the first to find him. He wasn't a very popular or principled individual, and there are any number of possible suspects. The investigation falls to Sara's cello pupil, DCI Andrew Poole. The plot thickens when Andrew falls for her, and when James becomes a suspect. This is a simple enough plot with enough interest to permit its competition with the setting, the spectacular city of Bath. Each of the main suspects is given his or her own chapters, and it doesn't become clear who did it until very close to the end. Along the way, a couple of imaginative yet believable alibis liven things up, but one of those alibis proves to be a cover. I was truly surprised when the murderer was finally revealed. Will Sara return to the concert stage? The answer to that question is left a bit unclear. A genuine mystery, a cast of engaging (and not so engaging) characters, and an appealing protagonist make this book a quick and pleasant way to spend a few evenings.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cathleen

    It was a pleasant read, but not a riveting one. Although the book is marketed as a mystery, it's really more a novel about the main character, Sara Selkirk, her suspended musical career, and the interest she has in a murder committed in the Roman baths of Bath, England. Unfortunately, I really couldn't muster up much enthusiasm or interest in her or in most of the other characters. The plot meandered at times; all of the characters and events eventually tied into the conclusion, but several of t It was a pleasant read, but not a riveting one. Although the book is marketed as a mystery, it's really more a novel about the main character, Sara Selkirk, her suspended musical career, and the interest she has in a murder committed in the Roman baths of Bath, England. Unfortunately, I really couldn't muster up much enthusiasm or interest in her or in most of the other characters. The plot meandered at times; all of the characters and events eventually tied into the conclusion, but several of the key events seemed forced and some of the characters seemed as though they were in the novel purely to fulfill some plot device. This book would be good, light reading for anyone who enjoys English settings, and who dislikes explicit violence or grit.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    This is the first in a series of mysteries - I may have seen it recommended on this site, or on Amazon - I don't remember. (This is a weird review to write because I thought I had already written it...!) Anyway, I liked the characters (the main character is a cellist, and many of her friends are musicians too, which was an interesting glimpse into that world), and the setting (contemporary Bath, England). Some of it is a little contrived, but there is a power to her writing and characterization This is the first in a series of mysteries - I may have seen it recommended on this site, or on Amazon - I don't remember. (This is a weird review to write because I thought I had already written it...!) Anyway, I liked the characters (the main character is a cellist, and many of her friends are musicians too, which was an interesting glimpse into that world), and the setting (contemporary Bath, England). Some of it is a little contrived, but there is a power to her writing and characterization that makes me want to read more of her books.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    A stylishly written mystery, set in Bath (not to give too much away, but a body turns up in the ancient Roman baths...) and featuring a professional cellist as heroine. No major flaws... I guess it was just a little low-key for my taste; I didn't have strong feelings about any of the characters, or any particular sense of urgency about the plot. If you like cozies with a bit of a contemporary edge (but only a bit), you might really enjoy this one. A stylishly written mystery, set in Bath (not to give too much away, but a body turns up in the ancient Roman baths...) and featuring a professional cellist as heroine. No major flaws... I guess it was just a little low-key for my taste; I didn't have strong feelings about any of the characters, or any particular sense of urgency about the plot. If you like cozies with a bit of a contemporary edge (but only a bit), you might really enjoy this one.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kyrie

    There's a murder in the Baths of Bath, in modern times. Sara Selkirk, who is playing music at the time, discovers the body and because she knows so many of the suspects, winds up trying to solve the mystery and other loose ends in her life. It's not a bad mystery - there's a lot of old history, some musician references and a bit of smuggling and other scandals. It's just, um, not outstanding either. I don't know why I haven't read more of her books, though. She's not bad. There's a murder in the Baths of Bath, in modern times. Sara Selkirk, who is playing music at the time, discovers the body and because she knows so many of the suspects, winds up trying to solve the mystery and other loose ends in her life. It's not a bad mystery - there's a lot of old history, some musician references and a bit of smuggling and other scandals. It's just, um, not outstanding either. I don't know why I haven't read more of her books, though. She's not bad.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Linda Thompson

    I came across this author recently when I saw a short play she had written on Sky, and heard her talk about her novels. This is the first in a trilogy, an English murder mystery- not a thriller by any means - set in Bath, and featuring cellist Sarah Selkirk as an amateur detective. I found it enjoyable enough to want to read the other two books, but will also explore some of her work in a different genre.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    I enjoyed the characters in this light mystery (set in Bath, England). The principal character is a musician and her artistic challenges added an interesting element to the story. I found I was much more curious about how she was going to "regain her musical mojo" than "who dun it." All in all, a pleasant, satisfying, light novel. I enjoyed the characters in this light mystery (set in Bath, England). The principal character is a musician and her artistic challenges added an interesting element to the story. I found I was much more curious about how she was going to "regain her musical mojo" than "who dun it." All in all, a pleasant, satisfying, light novel.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Giselle

    Horrible. Badly written, it skips from one thing to another without any obvious reason, new characters pop out of thin air with no explanation, dialogues are written as monologues most of the time, where characters answer questions that have not even been asked by any other characters and so on. I couldn't go past page 60, it was too much of a waste of time. Horrible. Badly written, it skips from one thing to another without any obvious reason, new characters pop out of thin air with no explanation, dialogues are written as monologues most of the time, where characters answer questions that have not even been asked by any other characters and so on. I couldn't go past page 60, it was too much of a waste of time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Janellyn51

    I read the last Sara Selkirk, Fruitful Bodies first, so I thought I should go back and read the first two. So, now I know how Sara and Andrew met. The story was ok. I kept picturing the creepy guy who raped Lisbeth in Dragon Tattoo whenever the story was about the slob of a headmaster, but that's just me. I read the last Sara Selkirk, Fruitful Bodies first, so I thought I should go back and read the first two. So, now I know how Sara and Andrew met. The story was ok. I kept picturing the creepy guy who raped Lisbeth in Dragon Tattoo whenever the story was about the slob of a headmaster, but that's just me.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Overall a really good read and plenty of clues to keep one guessing. Set in Bath England and very atmospheric though occasionally overwritten in the descriptions department (and I love the descriptive stuff, generally). Would have loved one of those hand-sketched maps of the sites that you see in the opening pages of, say, a Crombie novel. Would definitely read more from this author.

  18. 5 out of 5

    kathleen

    Great old fashioned murder mystery. No grotesque child abuse or tortured female, just the ordinary people doing out of the ordinary things as British mysteries are so good at describing. Characters are depicted in picturesque language befitting the lovely setting and season. The author thankfully avoids taking the reader through loads of red herrings.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Melody

    Nice read. When the museum director is murdered and his remains are found in the Roman Bath by a cellist she is inexorably drawn into the investigation as she is friends with both the deceive inspector investigating and all the suspects. A tense ending leaves a bit to be desired.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Pottenger

    For a murder mystery, it moved awfully slow. I felt no need to read any more of these.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    Talking about a good looking man - Sara thinks "We are simply not designed to withstand such men." It really struck me funny. The author has a dry humor and it's hilarious. Talking about a good looking man - Sara thinks "We are simply not designed to withstand such men." It really struck me funny. The author has a dry humor and it's hilarious.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Sara Selkirk mystery set in Bath - okay for the genre

  23. 4 out of 5

    KA

    A good debut. There were some really gorgeous passages about music, an hilarious heart-attack-that-turns-out-to-be-a-hard-candy-stuck-in-the-armpit scene, and lots of non-cliched descriptions.

  24. 5 out of 5

    LInda L

    This book started out pretty well -- I liked it for about 3/4 of the way through. Then it began to deteriorate and by the end, I pretty much hated it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lindig

    Well-written but a little draggy. First in series. Heroine supposedly a major cellist but, according to professional cellist friend, couldn't be with the lack of practice etc. Well-written but a little draggy. First in series. Heroine supposedly a major cellist but, according to professional cellist friend, couldn't be with the lack of practice etc.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Had a hard time grabbing my attention with this one. Maybe I'll pick it up again one of these days. Had a hard time grabbing my attention with this one. Maybe I'll pick it up again one of these days.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Paulette Ponte

    Writing's ok, but not a thriller and very slow moving. Writing's ok, but not a thriller and very slow moving.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Smith

    nothing particularly bad about it, just not my type of mystery.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bobby

    This is the first in the Sara Selkirk mystery series -- but later books were not as appealing to me.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Couldn't even start this one... Couldn't even start this one...

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