A Death in Vienna

A Death in Vienna by Frank Tallis.  The debut mystery featuring psychoanalyst Max Liebermann and Detective Oskar Rheinhardt of the Viennese security department is an excellent classic locked-room murder.  Set at the turn of the twentieth century, Liebermann is a disciple of Sigmund Freud, who appears several times during the book, and whereas he struggles to convince his medical colleagues of the value of this new science, his friend and fellow music lover, Rheinhardt, certainly values his observational and deductive skills.  When a beautiful medium is found shot behind the locked doors of her sitting room with a suicide note, but no weapon or bullet, the pair must ignore the idea of a supernatural killer and interview the members of the medium’s séance circle.  After one of the circle is also killed, the list of suspects shrinks and with the assistance of recovering former patient, Liebermann gathers the necessary evidence to confront the murderer. 

Tallis frequently uses street names and extensive descriptions of the vibrant music scene to convey his Viennese setting quite well.  There is a quick flow to his writing and the plot is sufficiently complex, though I prefer stories where the incriminating evidence is more complete and our hero doesn’t rely on the confession of the killer in the end.  Tallis does an excellent job of giving readers multiple viewpoints and facets for his two principle characters.  We see Rheinhardt with his wife and children and interacting with his superiors and colleagues among the security forces.  Liebermann’s relationships with his parents, his fiancé and his hospital co-workers are explored and give much greater depth to the character.  This is a fine first effort and I look forward to the second volume: Vienna Blood.

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