Sunday, September 23, 2012

Death and the Maiden-Frank Tallis

Death and the Maiden

Frank Tallis

Random House, Oct 2 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780812983340

Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt and his assistant Haussmann arrived at the home of Vienna Opera renowned soprano Ida Rosenkrantz. Rheinhardt learns from Constable Drasche that only the housekeeper frau Marcus who found the body and Dr. Engleberg who she called is inside the home. The corpse is oddly placed at the center of the rug. Dr. Engleberg tells the DI that the victim apparently imbibed a large amount of laudanum so she could have overdosed. To his chagrin, Rheinhardt has to inform his boss Commissioner Brugel so the latter can notify the Lord Chamberlain of the Court Opera singer’s death, making the case extremely sensitive.

The autopsy reveals that someone using immense force to crack a rib of the victim while suffocating the famous singer. The DI obtains the assistance of Freudian Dr. Max Liebermann in spite of knowing Vienna’s powerful and anti-Semitic Mayor Karl Lueger will object to using a Jew while running for reelection.

The latest Rheinhardt-Liebermann police procedural (see Vienna Secrets and Vienna Twilight) is a superb early twentieth century historical that uses real persona like Court Opera Director Gustav Mahler, Lueger and indirectly Freud. The case proves dangerous while the pair also looks into an alleged accidental death of a Brahms' compatriot who died four decades earlier. Even the personal front comes to life as Rheinhardt increasingly likes being with his family and Liebermann’s inamorata Amelia joins the budding feminist movement. Although somewhat more of a cozy with the abatement of violence as compared to previous entries, Frank Tallis provides a strong look at Freud’s Vienna.

Harriet Klausner

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