Requiem in Vienna
J. Sydney Jones
Minotaur, Feb 2 2010, $24.99
In 1899 at the Vienna Court Opera, a blazing curtain falls from above barely missing the famous director Gustav Mahler, but hits and kills a performer standing near the renowned composer-conductor. This is not the first incident apparently aimed at Gustav though this is the first deadly assault.
Private inquirer Karl Werthen is hired to keep Mahler safe and uncover who the stalker is before this person succeeds in his or her deadly intent. With his pregnant wife Berthe insisting on helping Karl, he also asks criminologist Hanns Gross to join the investigation into the deadly incident, previous threats and new accidental attacks that seem to target Mahler. Their inquiry leads to music rivalries starting with the composer Richard Wagner and with antisemitism though Mahler is a former Jew.
Requiem in Vienna is a superb historical mystery that uses the terrific private investigation as a springboard to present life in Vienna at the turn of the last century. The story line is fast-paced as Karl worries about his beloved Berthe who insists on being part of the inquiry team while working through the mud of the music world, which proves no waltz. Fans who prefer a strong historical presence in their mysteries will enjoy this delightful whodunit.