Thursday, December 31, 2009

Vienna Secrets-Frank Tallis

Vienna Secrets
Frank Tallis
Random House, Feb 23 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780812980998

In 1903 Vienna, having collaborated before (see Vienna Blood) Detective Inspector Oskar Reinhardt asks his much older friend psychoanalyst Dr. Max Liebermann to take a look at a gruesome corpse found on the grounds of Maria Treue Kirche. Max informs Oskar the victim a pianist monk Brother Stanislav had his head savagely ripped from his body. Before going on to the General Hospital to make his rounds, Max suggests Oskar interview strong men as well as the monks. Under questioning the monks insist Brother Stanislav was a good holy person until finally one breaks ranks and says the victim wrote anti-Semitic articles published in Vaterland.

Meanwhile two city council rivals Burke Faust and Julius Schmidt compete for favors from the mayor. Schmidt begins an anti-Jewish campaign using the homicide as justification. Rebbe Barash and his Kabala followers insist God’s wrath descended on the monk which just enflames the city and encourages Schmidt. When Faust has his head torn off, the city reacts with anger and fear as anti-Semitism fever rises exponentially. While struggling with the case whose lone link is odd mud at the murder scenes, Max is in trouble at the hospital over Last Rites and Oskar dreams of dating a feminist.

Once again as in the Liebermann-Reinhardt previous collaborations (see A Death in Vienna and Fatal Lies), the time and place make for a great historical police procedural with the emphasis on the anti-Semitic atmosphere of 1903 Vienna. The murder inquiry is a terrific police procedural that will grip the audience wondering who and why. However, once again what makes Frank Tallis’ latest tale and the entire series one of the best on the market is the sense of being in Vienna at the time of Freud.

Harriet Klausner