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The Empty Mirror (Viennese Mysteries #1)

3.36  ·  Rating Details ·  294 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews

The summer of 1898 finds Austria terrorized by a killer whom the press calls “Vienna’s Jack the Ripper.†When the painter Gustav Klimt’s female model becomes the fifth victim, the police finger him as the culprit. Dr. Hanns Gross, the renowned father of criminology, agrees to assist Klimt's lawyer, Karl Werthen, in investigating the murders. Together, Gross and W

Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 19th 2010 by Minotaur Books (first published January 8th 2008)
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Jones, J. Sydney. THE EMPTY MIRROR: A Viennese Mystery. (2009). **1/2. The author is an expert on Vienna and things Viennese. He has written guidebooks for the city and a history of the city. He has chosen to set this mystery, his first, in Vienna in 1898. The city is being terrorized by a serial killer, called “Vienna’s Jack the Ripper.” Four bodies have been found so far and there is, as yet, no viable suspect. The fifth body, however, turns out to be a model who has posed for Gustav Klimt. Su ...more
Terri Lynn
I absolutely love this book and this author. What a fine classy grown up mystery this is! Set in Vienna, Austria (a place I love) in 1898, lawyer (Advokat) Karl Werthen finds himself embroiled in what was termed the search for Vienna's version of Jack the Ripper when he defends artist friend Gustav Klimt who is accused of all of the murders when his model is the 5th victim. Werthen is ably assisted by criminologist Dr. Hans Gross and when they prove Klimt is innocent (another victim dies while h ...more
Jul 21, 2013 Kelsey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book wears two faces. It’s both a detailed exploration of turn-of-the century Vienna and a complex mystery stretching from palaces to slums. Although at times encyclopedic, The Empty Mirror does a great job balancing history and intrigue.

I read this book for two reasons. First, I recently went to Vienna and was stunned by the Sisi Museum. Sisi is the affectionate nickname of Empress Elisabeth, and she and her many siblings led fascinating lives, from innocent beauty to dark recluse, from as
Mary Ronan Drew
Jan 28, 2011 Mary Ronan Drew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Books set in Vienna always, eventually, get to the food. Sacher tortes and coffees of various kinds, sausages, spaetzle, and of course schlagsahne. (The only German I know is "mit schlagsahne, bitte.")

J Sydney Jones' The Empty Mirror is a mystery in which a former criminal attorney, Karl Werthen (now practicing what seems to be property transfer law or something similarly boring), and a famed criminologist, Dr Hans Gross, team up to prove that Werthen's friend, Gustav Klimt, is innocent of a str
Malcolm Ewing
Jones's historical knowledge of Vienna is flawless, and his writing is fluid and readable. But his attempt, as the plot unfolds, to link a series of real historical events, and Habsburg family tragedies, into one florid and hysterical conspiracy is absurd and incredible, fatally damaging an otherwise interesting historical crime thriller. The Habsburgs, and in particular the beloved Emperor Franz Josef, deserve far better than this kind of defamatory shlock!

There's also a bit too much exposition
Nov 15, 2015 Gretchen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent find! I look forward to continuing with this series.
Alan Swift
Mar 06, 2017 Alan Swift rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Turn of the century Vienna is becoming a popular location for historical crime fiction and this novel was just about on par with those of Frank Tallis. At times the educational dialogue about Vienna and the Austro-Hungarian Empire is overdone but the characters of Werthen and Gross are likeable and the repartee is amusing. The plot was at times over complex and scarcely believable but given the author's work to draw into the story so many historical characters he can be forgiven for that. In poi ...more
Jun 26, 2012 Janebbooks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Murders and Mayhem in Historic Vienna....., March 9, 2010

Welcome to the Vienna of 1898. It's summer and Gustav Klimt, the handsome, notorious artist who adds elegant gold or colored touches to his paintings, is in eminent danger of being arrested. The fifth victim of a vicious murderer has been found on the grounds of the Prater amusement park built to celebrate Fran Joseph's fiftieth jubilee as emperor. Since June, disfigured bodies drained of blood with broken necks and severed noses have bee
Jul 04, 2012 Billy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid, deliberate historical fiction piece,

It is unfortunate that the book doesn't contain any historical notes at the conclusion (I have the ARC, Advanced Reading Copy, from Amazon Vine so perhaps the novel itself will contain one). The base of this story is fact; a spin on the reasons behind the death of Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her son Rudolph, the Crown Prince of Austria making it historical fiction.
The inclusion of painter Gustav Klimt and criminalist Inspector Hanns Gross, both r
Lisa Kucharski
Jul 20, 2014 Lisa Kucharski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a big fan of mystery, and do enjoy reading mysteries from various periods of time. And this book, like other historical mysteries takes place in the past and weaves events from the past and mysteries together. However, this book had some quirks that made the book successful at times and plodding at others.

1. As a mystery it was engaging, though our experts missed a vital clue that should have tipped them off at the end of Part 1. That the man who was deemed the murderer was in fact, not. T
Jun 24, 2013 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
The Empty Mirror & Requiem in Vienna by J. Sydney Jones; books 1 & 2 of the Advokat Werthen series.

These two mysteries are set in Turn-of-the-20th Century Vienna, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire was at its apex and was peopled by such luminaries as Sigmund Freud, Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing, Gustav Mahler, Franz Ferdinand, the Emperor Franz Joseph and of course the waltz-king Johann Strauss. The Empire is seen through the eyes of a young lawyer, or in German Advokat, Karl Werthen
As Holmes and Watson are to 19th century London, Gross (a criminologist) and Werthen (a lawyer) are to 19th century Vienna. Except here, Werthen and Gross are "real" and actually make reference to Mr. Doyle and his fictional characters. Gross fancies that Arthur Conan Doyle has read his criminology text in creating Mr. Holmes.

This is a page turning read, a blend of genres between historical fiction and the detective novel. If you know and love Vienna and its history, you will love the way that
Jan 20, 2009 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Empty Mirror" owes a great deal to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. In fact, Holmes is mentioned several times throughout the novel, which sees a physician-turned-criminologist and a lawyer investigating a series of Jack the Ripper-type slayings in fin-de-siecle Vienna. Werthen, the lawyer, is brought into the fray when one of the victims is revealed to be an artists' model for his client Gustav Klimt.

The book incorporates political intrigues of the day as well as an outsta
A Sherlock Holmes style mystery embedded in a vivid historical depiction of pre WWI Viennese society. I enjoyed the story and the author's obvious historical appreciation of late 19th century Viennese society, but like other readers found the protagonist's all to frequent historical ramblings and the final aristocratic conspiracy to be a bit much.
Oct 12, 2015 Wanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed the book. The lawyer, Werthen, finds himself looking for something else to do with his life besides his current practice of law. He longs to go back to criminal law. He reunites with his friend Gross and they investigate a series of murders which draws them into further investigations of the assassination of the empress and the death of her son ten years prior. Along the way he falls in love and ends up putting her life in danger.
It is interesting to see how the author portrays the early
The author is certainly an expert in the setting of late 19th century Vienna and the Habsburg Empire. I was drawn to the story principally because I wanted to see how he might evoke the atmosphere of prewar Vienna, and I was thoroughly sucked into the city and the landmarks as well as the history. The plot is quite convoluted and revolves around a question of whether the Crown Prince Rudolph took his own life or was assassinated. Was the Empress Elizabeth also murdered, or did she die from compl ...more
Dec 13, 2016 Kay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a murder mystery set in Vienna, Austria in 1898. I was interesting because the author is an expert on Vienna and its history - so the fictional mystery included lots of real characters and real events along with the imagined meetings and conversations. The crime solvers Werthen and Gross are portrayed as a Viennese Sherlock and Watson and their interactions were fun. But the murders and eventual motives were kind of convoluted and not totally believable.
Brenda Mengeling
Aug 03, 2012 Brenda Mengeling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, fiction, ebook, 48
A mostly enjoyable historical mystery set in 1890s Vienna. Karl Werthern is the main character, a lawyer, who had given up criminal cases to do only estate planning. However, he is bored, and when his friend that painter Gustav Klimt needs help against a murder charge, Werthern is only too happy to take up the case. Eminent criminologist, Hans Gross, insinuates himself into the case and provides a good foil to Werthern.

I liked the characters, especially Werthern, and the setting, although all th
Jun 05, 2011 Diane rated it it was amazing
This mystery/political thriller is set in late 19th century Vienna. It begins with the work of a serial killer, who dumps his victims on the grounds of the Prater, a popular amusement park in the city. When the painter Gustav Klimt is implicated in the murders, two lawyer friends of his begin to investigate. This is a somewhat unconventional mystery, as the mystery only takes up about half the book. The second half connects the mystery to a broader political conspiracy. The author clearly knows ...more
Margaret Sankey
Jul 23, 2011 Margaret Sankey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Bored lawyer Karl Werther and his psychology professor Hans Gross follow a case of street murders in Vienna into a rotten conspiracy at the heart of the declining Habsburg Empire--were the deaths of the Empress Elisabeth and her syphilitic son Rudolph really political assassinations? With cameo appearances by Arthur Schnitzler, Gustav Klimt, Sigmund Freud, Richard von Krafft-Ebbing and a particularly obnoxious Mark Twain visiting as a tourist.
I finished The Empty Mirror last night and enjoyed it very much. My only complaint is that the plot became it bit unrealistic toward the end, but it sets up the lead characters with royal ties that may be useful later in the series. Vienna was well presented; I would have enjoyed it more if I knew the city. I really like the relationship between the two main detectives: a variation on the Holmes / Watson pairing. I wonder how much of Klimt's characterization was true?
Aug 15, 2014 Melissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Better than the second one 'cause not keep talking about what happened in the first book! In real life the prince Rudolf was thought to have committed suicide but this book has an interesting twist on it. The main bad guy is however fictitous. Ok book but the main character Werthen is a bit of a wimp when it comes to his friends.
Nov 22, 2011 Debbie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For me, not as good as the Frank Tallis series set in the same location and era. This series has more real life characters make appearances than the Tallis series. This volume involves a conspiracy to put only "right thinking" royalty on the Austia-Hungary throne. The conspiracy involves the death of Prince Rudolf at Mayerling ten years earlier and the assassination of his mother in 1898.
Dianne Landry
Jun 05, 2012 Dianne Landry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Set in Vienna in the 1890's it is an interesting murder mystery. Tying in the death of the Empress and the events at Mayerling make for curious speculation. I agree that these characters are right up there with Holmes and Watson or Poirot and Hastings. I can't wait to read the next one in the series.
Set in Vienna, Austria the end of the 19th century this book involves a mass murderer, along the lines of Jack the Ripper. Or is that the real motive behind the deaths? There are also allusions to Sissi's death, the favorite Empress, and the real reasons behind her assination. Interesting, but not enough characterization for me. Characters were a bit flat. Plot was great.
Jan 25, 2013 Will rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was interested in this book because 1) it is a mystery-suspense novel that is 2) set in Vienna. In terms of the latter, I did enjoy the setting—the author did a nice job describing the city, incorporating things that are uniquely Viennese, etc. In terms of the mystery-suspense aspect, I wasn't quite as enamored with the plot or the building of suspense.
Apr 18, 2010 Vivian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately,did not pass the 50 page test. Set in Vienna in 1898, the premise sounded interesting, but, for me, didn't deliver. Maybe I should just finally admit to myself that most historicals bore me. 1ell written, however, and should not deter fans of this genre.
Aug 21, 2013 Mkb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was interesting as a portrait of Vienna and a précis of who was who at the turn of the century. As a mystery novel it was a pleasant pass-time. The flap copy compared it to the alienist, but it was not nearly so tense and dark.
The story was sort of like the history of Vienna before WWI with a little murder thrown in to make history more palatable if you are not normally a fan of history. I liked it and enjoyed being reminded of previous visits to Vienna, where, to me, history is very interesting.
Still not the best, but this one has: Klimt, the K&K monarchy, Mayerling, Sisi, references to the Austrian women's suffrage movement, Zionism, lots of architectural descriptions, and other wonderfully Viennese details that make me happy. I will keep reading the rest.
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Other Books in the Series

Viennese Mysteries (6 books)
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