Frank Tallis, Death in Vienna Review

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Harriet Klausner's review of Frank Tallis, Death in Vienna


“Death in Vienna ”

Written on: 18/02/2006 by Harriet Klausner (18637 reviews written)

Death in Vienna

Frank Tallis

Grove, Mar 2006, $22.00

ISBN: 0802118151

At the turn of the twentieth century, Vienna is the hot spot of the new controversial science because its founder Sigmund Freud works there. A colleague of Freud, psychoanalyst Max Lieberman works with the hysterical, but also assists his friend Police Detective Oskar Rheinhardt on investigations when requested.

Oskar asks Max to help him with a difficult case that on the surface seems obvious. A beautiful medium, Fraulein Lowenstein, apparently shot herself in her heart inside a locked room with a suicide note near her body; simple, except there is no gun at the scene, or even more enigmatic a bullet in her corpse. Since the death occurred on a day she was to conduct a s ance, Max questions her servants and clients. He quickly concludes that several people actually had motives, but the opportunity seems beyond their possibility. As Oskar and Max struggle with the investigation, one of Lowenstein's clients is murdered in his sleep inside a locked room. The motives and means once again are obvious, but how someone made the opportunity happen remains beyond the understanding of the two sleuths.

This is a terrific historical police procedural in which the intellectual atmosphere of Vienna circa 2000 is alive, and in some ways the main character of the delightful tale, though Max and Oskar are fully developed authentic protagonists. The lead pair struggle with uncovering the how to a murder mystery, but in doing so also add to the ambiance that controls the entire wonderful plot. Frank Tallis provides a powerful early twentieth century whodunit that will have readers waltzing with the investigators as they dance around Vienna seeking to identify the culprit before another homicide takes place.

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