Emily's Reviews > A Death in Vienna

A Death in Vienna by Frank Tallis
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's review
Mar 22, 2010

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bookshelves: 2010
Read in March, 2010

You can tell that this is a first novel, especially in the way the author sticks to short scenes, but the character and milieu are promising; I'll read the sequels. The protagonist is Max Liebermann, a Vienna psychiatrist circa 1902; he spends his evenings smoking cigars and playing the piano to accompany his friend, baritone and Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt. Naturally Rheinhardt ends up with a murder that he can't solve without drawing on Liebermann's expertise. A famous medium has been killed and the colorful attendees of her regular seances are suspects. Meanwhile, Liebermann is treating an English governess with symptoms of hysteria and running into conflict with his department chair about how the treatment should proceed.

Tallis lays on some of the detail rather heavy--there are ways to remind us we're in Vienna other than pastries--but the atmosphere is involving. Not only does the plot take place in a certain place and time, but it intrinsically involves concerns of the day, like Freudian analysis, occultism, and anti-Semitism.

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