Review: Bellweather Rhapsody
Updated: Sep 23, 2021
Bellweather Rhapsody, by Kate Racculia (2014)
Murder, trickery, twins, music, delusions, accidents, a dog, a wedding, crushes, mystery, ghosts, guns and poison... all at an old hotel, during a snow storm. Think The Shining, but fewer insane people, and more humor.
Fifteen years ago, in 1982, a murder-suicide took place in room 712 at the Bellweather Hotel, a beautiful, but well past it's heyday, hotel in the Catskills (I pictured a ramshackle version of the resort in Dirty Dancing). Cut to 1997, and twins Alice & Rabbit Hatmaker are attending the annual music festival held at the Bellweather, along with a cast of characters that includes: Natalie Wilson, their eccentric music teacher; Hastings, the sweet but tottering old concierge; Fisher Brodie, a seemingly unhinged Scottish conductor; Viola Fabian, the monstrous and cold festival director, along with her flutist prodigy daughter, Jill Faccelli; and Minnie Graves, the sad, broken girl who witnessed the murder-suicide 15 years ago.
Alice is rooming with prodigy Jill in - you guessed it - room 712, when Jill goes mysteriously missing. What follows is a who-dunnit that casts doubt on everyone, as we learn about each character's background (and their demons), their quirks and motivations, and how they connect to one another (there's a real six-degrees-of-separation vibe going on here). This book was fantastically fun, with surprises at every turn of the page. Witty, quirky, and unexpected - a great combo!
I also personally enjoyed the references to Buffalo, Syracuse, and, of course, Rochester - including the prestigious school for music called WESTing... ya know, kinda like EASTman...
Huge thanks go out to my friend Shannon, who sent me this book!
2015 Best Book of the Summer from Publishers Weekly
2015 Alex Award, from the American Library Association
UP NEXT: The Scribe of Siena, by Melodie Winawer