The Wonder Singer
Mark Lockwood has been hired by the European opera star Mercé Casals, now in her eighties and living in Southern California, to write her memoirs. While in the middle of recording the Señora’s adventures with war, fame, scandal, seduction and betrayal, the diva dies of cardiac arrest in her bath. The ghost writer is left wth a silent client.
Armed with 500 hours of interviews on cassettes and his own ingenuity, Lockwood must piece together the missing gaps in the singer’s life. Out to thwart the writer’s claim on the Señora’s story are her former agent, Hollywood Hank, and best selling bio-sleezer Alonzo Baylor.
The Wonder Singer takes shape as a book-within-a-book and sweeps Lockwood along the dizzying chronology of the diva’s life, beginning with the card game in which her father loses her to Pep Saval, the rustic showman who becomes her mentor, father-figure, and seducer. Along the way, we follow her survival during the Spanish Civil War, her marriage to a philandering tenor, and her love affair with an exiled prince.
Lockwood is aided in his deadline race by a colorful set of characters, including a beautiful nurse specializing in deathbed cases; Orson LaPrima, worshipful opera buff; and Nolan Keefe, Mercé’s husband exiled to the exclusive Villa Age D’Or, and who may or may not have secrets to reveal.
In this contemporary caper Lockwood sorts through the rich, contradictory, and sometimes dark details of a grand, dramatic life. In the process he discovers that the lesson of Casals’ life is about finding a purpose and a voice for the stories that must be told.