Readers of historical mysteries like myself enjoy nothing better than being transported from our mundane twenty-first century existences into the exotic realms of the past. We’re huge suckers for the transportive power of the classic fairy tale opening of “once upon a time” merged with the immediacy of “one day” when something happens to change everything. So that’s the effect I strove to create in the opening lines of my Joseph Haydn mystery, A Minor Deception:
On a chilly December morning in the year 1766, the inhabitants of the little town of Eisenstadt bustle about in a state of feverish anticipation. Eisenstadt might be no different from any other obscure free town in Royal Hungary; too insignificant to merit a spot on the postal route. Nevertheless, it has drawn the attention of the entire Empire upon itself.
The widowed Empress Maria Theresa is to grace the little town in her Hungarian domains with a visit in three weeks, bringing to an end a year-long period of mourning for her beloved husband.
But the man whom the town credits for this remarkable event is at this very moment beginning to fear something might go amiss in the weeks to come.