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Kindle Edition eBooks Details
  • 11/2013
  • B0082CFPNA
  • 232 pages
  • $3.99
Libby Sternberg

Murder, passion, music and war combine in this riveting story of a troubled pianist who doesn’t know if he’s a murderer...

EDGAR-NOMINATED AUTHOR LIBBY STERNBERG tells the brooding tale of a classical pianist-turned-conductor who cannot remember the night his nemesis was murdered. Did he commit the crime—or did an enchanting soprano do it, a woman with whom he is falling in love? In the fall of 1941, as war creeps ever closer, his freedom and happiness depend on his ability to either identify the murderer or recall his own actions that night. With parallels to well-known operas, Death Is the Cool Night takes readers behind the scenes of a music conservatory and into the heart of some of the most beautiful compositions ever written for voice.

Quarter Finalist

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.50 out of 10


Plot: The question of who killed the cruel scoundrel Ivan Roustakoff is especially intriguing because protagonist Gregory Silensky may be the murderer, but with his drink-fogged mind, he can't be quite sure. Gregory also suspects the beautiful, childlike vocal student Laura, but they soon fall in love and he can't imagine her going to jail. This book features excellent foreshadowing and teasers keep the pace quick.

Prose/Style: This book’s lovely cadence and phrasing help to move the story along, and descriptions are verbal visualizations of scenes and characters. Gregory's passion for music is deliciously described. The 1940s references are accurate and engaging.

Originality: The blend of murder, music and musicians is not fully fresh, but it's interesting as told from the perspective of a pianist with damaged hands and uncertainty about his own guilt. The finely honed prose adds to the originality of this novel.

Character Development: The characters are dynamic individuals with fascinating neuroses and captivating quirks. The author displays an impressive technique of descriptions that dig deeper into traits than physical appearances.

Blurb: Superior prose carries this story of a brooding pianist alcoholic who worries that he might be guilty of killing a loathsome conductor. Musicians and murder make for an especially neurotic entanglement of suspects. Bravo!

Date Submitted: April 03, 2019

Publishers Weekly

"Blending operatic drama, sumptuous description, and noir, Sternberg gracefully puzzles out her tormented characters’ actions and motivations..." 

Death Is the Cool Night and the Booklife Prize

I've decided to enter my operatic mystery, Death Is the Cool Night, into the Booklife contest. This took some pondering on my part because the book has been out for a while now, and I've already received a lovely Publishers Weekly review of it and its linked mystery, Lost to the World.

But I love this story of a lost soul, an artist who doesn't quite fit in the upper class world of classical music or the working class world he was born into. I love the dramatic music he also loves, and the setting is one with which I'm very familiar, my native Baltimore.

I had the idea for this story many years ago and penned a couple iterations before landing on this one. I could not interest a traditional publisher in it at the time. Wrong place, wrong time. World War II-era novels weren't on anyone's radar screen back then, and my time period was a definite drawback. 

So I self-published it in the early days of the Kindle platform, took it down to correct all the neophyte formatting errors I'd made, and re-released it. I'm pleased to see it's received 9 good reviews at Amazon. 

I've entered it because, frankly, I hope it has a chance at winning, or at least finaling. I believe in this story and would love it if more readers find it.

To that end, I'll be doing more promotion for it, probably starting with a price reduction of the Kindle version at the very least. 

Happy reading!

New blog post on storytelling

Visit my blog for a short post on haves vs. have-nots storytelling and this novel!

Kindle Edition eBooks Details
  • 11/2013
  • B0082CFPNA
  • 232 pages
  • $3.99