Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fatal Lies-Frank Tallis

Fatal Lies
Frank Tallis
Random House, Feb 24 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780812977776

Headmaster Julis Eichmann runs St. Florian's Military Academy near Vienna with an iron fist. However, when fifteen year old student Thomas Zelenka is found dead, Police Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt and psychotherapist Dr. Max Liebermann lead the official inquiry though the latter detests time away from Hungarian musician Trezska Novak.

On the surface, there is no evidence of a homicide though the two sleuths wonder why the victim has so many cuts and scratcheses all over his torso even under his armpits. Although no one cooperates, especially the headmaster, the investigators soon learn of sexual trysts between the faculty and staff with the students. Especially alarming is an alleged encounter between the dead teen and a teacher Herr Sommer as well as the pupil with the wife of the assistant headmaster. Finally they uncover a student cult dedicated to Nietzsche led by the nephew of Police Commissioner Brugel, who already loathes the use of Freudian psychology in official investigations.

Using real famous Vienna persona to anchor time and place, Frank Tallis writes a great historical mystery. The story line is fast-paced as the lead sleuths follow clues that take them into diverse directions. The whodunit is clever, but once again as with BLOOD AND DEATH IN VIENNA, it is the profound look at intellectual Vienna circa 1900 that owns the novel.

Harriet Klausner