Thursday, January 19, 2017

Papa Haydn Gets the Case: Guest Post by Nupur Tustin, Author of A Minor Deception + Tour-Wide Giveaway

I'm often asked why I chose the composer Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) as the protagonist of my historical mystery series. That question is frequently accompanied by another one: How does Haydn use his musical skills to solve mysteries? This last uttered with a great deal of skepticism as though the series must of necessity deal with the authentication of musical works or be a sort of eighteenth-century musical version of the television series White Collar to require a musician at all. 

But let me tell you a story. I think you'll see for yourself why Haydn was the perfect choice. 

Haydn worked for one of the most powerful families in the Habsburg Empire, the Esterházys, as a Kapellmeister—Director of Music. Now Prince Nikolaus Esterházy disliked Vienna intensely. He spent the winter there as was customary, but preferred to spend the bulk of his time in the quiet backwaters of a marsh-ridden village called Eszterháza. 

In fact, shortly after extensive renovations transformed the modest hunting lodge he owned there into a magnificent palace, the Prince made the decision to spend the long summer months in Eszterháza. So, for six months of the year, the members of the orchestra with the exception of Haydn were obliged to remain in the Hungarian village without their families. 

But when the Prince considered extending the customary six-month stay in Eszterháza by two whole months, the musicians, desperate to see their wives again, protested vehemently. Something had to be done about this decision, they informed the Kapellmeister. And Haydn, who, despite his own troubled relations with his wife, perfectly understood the situation, set himself to resolve the problem.

He first considered a petition to the Prince, but, realizing that the reason behind the musicians' unhappiness might only provoke amusement without solving the problem, dismissed the idea. A few other solutions were considered and rejected before the Kapellmeister hit upon the perfect idea. 

A few evenings later, the Prince was treated to the most wonderful sextet. But in the middle of the most passionate passage, one of the players closed his score, put out his candle, and left with his instrument. In this manner each musician, including Haydn himself, left the room. When the last musician put out his light and left, the Prince got the message.

He followed the musicians into the antechamber, and approaching his Kapellmeister said, "I understand, Haydn; tomorrow the men may all leave." 

I'm especially fond of this anecdote narrated by one of Haydn's early biographers, A.C. Dies, because it illustrates a number of key qualities that enabled Haydn to succeed in his position as Kapellmeister. And these same qualities serve him well as a fictional detective.

First, Haydn is nothing if not discreet. When his musicians approach him for help, he's careful to find a solution that won't trivialize their complaints. This concern for his musicians' sensibility and welfare earned him their lifelong respect and the affectionate nickname of Papa Haydn. His discretion would have been appreciated by his employer as well. 

Consider any detective in the annals of historical mysteries. How far do you suppose they would go were they not discreet? Anne Perry's Thomas Pitt would certainly never rise to become head of the Secret Service had he a propensity to gossip and meddle. And although Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher can be charmingly forthright, even she knows when to hold her tongue. 

In A Minor Deception, when his violinist's disappearance threatens to turn into a political problem, Haydn's discretion is needed to contain the potential ramifications of the incident.

The solution Haydn employs in the anecdote I've just recounted shows a great deal of resourcefulness. There are quite a few stories of his dealings with musicians that show Haydn to be both tactful and resourceful—excellent qualities for a detective. And, for his first case, Haydn needs every ounce of ingenuity he has. 

The protagonist of a historical mystery must typically weave a path among both high-ranking individuals and those of lesser birth. After all, crime, like death, knows no boundaries. That Haydn was able to do so, earning the trust and respect of all classes of people, is clearly revealed in the little anecdote I've shared. 

His solution, however ingenious, would have had no persuasive power for the Prince had His Serene Highness not been able to trust Haydn's judgment when it came to his men and his decisions about the best course of action to take. That trust would have transferred over to other matters as well. 

There's one other quality a good detective—at least one in a historical mystery—must possess. The ability to understand the sensibilities of both upper and lower classes. 

Anne Perry's Thomas Pitt marries above his station, giving him access to high-ranking members of society. Victoria Thompson's Sarah Brandt moves down in the world as a result of her decision to become a midwife. This gives her an insight in how the poor live, and how their circumstances affect their behavior and their values. Phryne Fisher has a motley crew of helpers available to provide her a glimpse into the seamier side of Australian society.

Haydn's own humble birth enabled him to understand those of his station. His immense talents and his hard work brought him into contact with the most powerful members of the Habsburg Empire, giving him a singular and intimate insight into the workings of their minds as well. 

In so many ways, then, Haydn is the perfect detective. How could I not assign him the case?


Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Foiled Plots Press
eBook & Trade Paperback; 254 Pages

Series: Joseph Haydn Mysteries
Genre: Historical Mystery

When his newly hired violinist disappears just weeks before the Empress’s visit, Haydn is forced to confront a disturbing truth. . .

Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn would like nothing better than to show his principal violinist, Bartó Daboczi, the door. But with the Empress Maria Theresa’s visit scheduled in three weeks, Haydn can ill-afford to lose his surly virtuoso.

But when Bartó disappears—along with all the music composed for the imperial visit—the Kapellmeister is forced to don the role of Kapell-detective, or risk losing his job.

Before long Haydn’s search uncovers pieces of a disturbing puzzle. Bartó, it appears, is more than just a petty thief—and more dangerous. And what seemed like a minor musical mishap could modulate into a major political catastrophe unless Haydn can find his missing virtuoso.

Praise for A Minor Deception

“A Minor Deception is a wonderful tour de force that pulls the reader into the intricate world of 18th century music, mystery and politics! Elegantly written and plotted, the reader will be hooked from page one.” -New York Times Bestselling Author Emily Brightwell

“. . . will enthrall music lovers and mystery lovers alike. With complex characters and vivid descriptions, the reader will be transported back to the eighteenth century to enjoy a fascinating tale of intrigue. . .” -Kate Kingsbury, Pennyfoot Hotel Mysteries

“A wonderful read for any music lover! Vivid historical descriptions, intricate details, and a fascinating central character kept me turning the pages. Bravo!” –Amanda Carmack, award-winning author of The Elizabethan Mystery Series

Buy the Book

About the Author

A former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to
orchestrate fictional mayhem. The Haydn mysteries are a result of her life-long passion for classical music and its history. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her original compositions, available on

Her writing includes work for Reuters and CNBC, short stories and freelance articles, and research published in peer-reviewed academic journals. She lives in Southern California with her husband, three rambunctious children, and a pit bull.

For details on the Haydn series and monthly blog posts on the great composer, visit the official Haydn Mystery website. You can also find Nupur Tustin on Facebook and Goodreads.

It's Giveaway Time!!!

To win a paperback copy of A Minor Deception, please enter via the Gleam form HERE.


Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 23rd. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Giveaway is open to residents in Europe & North America only.

Only one entry per household.

All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.

Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Good Luck!!!

A Minor Deception Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 16

Review at Bibliotica

Tuesday, January 17

Interview at The Book Connection
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, January 18

Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Thursday, January 19

Guest Post at A Literary Vacation

Friday, January 20

Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Sunday, January 22

Review at Laura’s Interests

Monday, January 23

Review at Luxury Reading


  1. Thanks for hosting this post. I enjoyed writing it for your blog!

    1. Thanks so much, Nupur! I really enjoyed the post!!