Friday, 29 January 2010

CRIME REVIEWS: The Liebermann Papers: Frank Tallis Day

BOOK BLURB: Mortal Mischief

It is Vienna at the beginning of the last century, and Dr Max Liebermann is a young psychoanalyst - and disciple of Freud. Psychoanalysis is only just developing and viewed with a mixture of excitement and suspicion. The world of 1900s Vienna is one where philosophy, science and art are at their most exciting and flourishing, with the coffee shops full of men and women debating the latest cultural and political theories. Liebermann's good friend Oskar Rheinhardt is a Detective Inspector - hard working, but lacking Liebermann's insights and forensic eye and so it is through Rheinhardt that Libermann is called upon to help with police investigations surrounding the death of a beautiful young medium, in what seems at first to be supernatural circumstances. While Liebermann attempts to get to the bottom of the mystery, he also must decide whether he is to follow his father's advice and marry the beautiful but reserved Clara.


I came to Franks writing probably quite late compared to a number of other readers, however what this brought to the fore was an expertise that has not only confounded courts in the US but also brought a new area of professional clinical psychology to the readers of Crime Fiction. Well written, beautifully descriptive and above all a tale where you can understand the characters motives as well as boons alongside their negative characteristics as each effects the tale as it unfurls. Its twisted in places, the mystery well worth investigating and with the descriptiveness of the time period the reader will hate to finish the first offering and luckily have the second one to delve into.

BOOK BLURB: Vienna Blood

In the grip of a Siberian winter in 1902, a serial killer in Vienna embarks upon a bizarre campaign of murder. Vicious mutilation, a penchant for arcane symbols, and a seemingly random choice of victim are his most distinctive peculiarities. Detective Inspector, Oskar Rheinhardt summons a young disciple of Freud - his friend Dr. Max Liebermann - to assist him with the case. The investigation draws them into the sphere of Vienna's secret societies - a murky underworld of German literary scholars, race theorists, and scientists inspired by the new evolutionary theories coming out of England. At first, the killer's mind seems impenetrable - his behaviour and cryptic clues impervious to psychoanalytic interpretation; however, gradually, it becomes apparent that an extraordinary and shocking rationale underlies his actions...Against this backdrop of mystery and terror, Liebermann struggles with his own demons. The treatment of a patient suffering from paranoia erotica and his own fascination with the enigmatic Englishwoman Amelia Lydgate raise doubts concerning the propriety of his imminent marriage. To resolve the dilemma, he must entertain the unthinkable - risking disgrace and accusations of cowardice.


Tales of murder and mystery generally tend to follow a set pattern and for the vast majority of readers who are used to the concept pretty easy to spot the whodunit from an early stage. What Frank does extremely well is hide the villain from the reader until the last few pages and pulls the whole thing out of the bag that the reader will be surprised that they didn’t see some of the small hints given throughout. Its well written crime fare and if you like the mysteries on the level of Christie then this is perhaps the modern author who will keep the tales alive in the readers imagination as probably one of the few who could be described as her successor.

BOOK BLURB: Fatal Lies

Vienna, 1903. In St. Florian's military school, a rambling edifice set high in the hills of the City's famous woods, a young cadet is found dead - his body lacerated with razor wounds. Once again, Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt calls on his friend - and disciple of Freud - Doctor Max Liebermann, to help him with the investigation. In the closed society of the school, power is everything - and suspicion falls on an elite group of cadets, with a penchant for sadism and dangerous games. When it is discovered that the dead boy was a frequent guest of the deputy headmaster's attractive young wife - other motives for murder suggest themselves.A tangled web of relationships is uncovered, at the heart of which are St. Florian's dark secrets, which Liebermann, using new psychoanalytic tools such as dream interpretation and the ink-blot test, begins to probe. At the same time, a shocking revelation makes it impossible for Liebermann to pursue the object of his affections, the Englishwoman Miss Lydgate, and he finds himself romantically involved with the passionate and elemental Trezska Novak - a mysterious Hungarian concert violinist, gifted with uncannily accurate intuitions. Again, all is not what it seems, and Liebermann is drawn into the perilous world of espionage - and must make choices, the outcome of which will threaten the entire stability of the Habsburg Empire. "Fatal Lies" - volume three of the "Liebermann Papers" - is about sex, the will to power, and deception.


If you want a tale that has realistic characters, a flavour of another time and above all a cracking tale of crime solving then there’s really few who delve into this than Frank Tallis, with this, the third offering in the series keeping the reader happy in the murder mystery of a cadet. Beautifully descriptive, it really does cry out to be enjoyed and whilst you could read this as a standalone you’ll have missed a lot of the hidden gems that Vienna has to offer by missing the others which would be a great shame. If you have a crime fan in your house and want something to tie them over the seasonal period without having to delve into the obligatory fare just to get past the day, then this is well worth the spends.

BOOK BLURB: Darkness Rising

Vienna 1903. Outside one of the city's most splendid baroque churches the decapitated body of a monk is found. Then, the remains of a municipal councillor are discovered in the grounds of another church - his head also ripped from his body. Both men were rabid anti-Semites and suspicions fall on Vienna's close-knit community of Hassidic Jews. In a city riven by racial tensions and extremism, the situation is potentially explosive. Detective Inspector Rheinhardt turns to his trusted friend, the young psychoanalyst Doctor Max Liebermann, for assistance. As the investigation progresses, Liebermann is drawn into the world of Jewish mysticism. Amid the atmosphere of threat and fear, Liebermann's life is in crisis. Political forces conspire against him, and the object of his romantic desires, the unreachable Miss Lydgate, is becoming an unhealthy obsession.


As a fan of historically placed crime novels I really can’t get enough of the little touches that authors throw in to authenticate the novel as well as giving the readers a real taste of the time and place in which its set. What Frank does extremely well is bring these little details to the fore as well as keeping it brief enough so its not overburdening and detracting from the books overall arc. Well written, beautifully adaptive all that you need to do is read a few pages to get the initial mystery as well as a chance to get to meet fully rounded characters who really could have stepped from the pages of time into the modern readers memory. Great stuff.

BOOK BLURB: Deadly Communication

A sexual predator is at large on the streets of Imperial Vienna and Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt appeals to his friend, psychoanalyst Dr. Max Liebermann, for assistance. Early signs indicate that the killer is no ordinary 'lust murderer' but an entirely new phenomenon, his particular deviance revealing the darker preoccupations of the age. To understand his behaviour, Liebermann must employ the latest developments in psychoanalysis and make a journey into uncharted regions of the human mind. Alongside the unfolding of this disturbing case, Liebermann must treat his own patients, including a man who claims to have seen his double - the doppelganger of Germanic folklore - an experience believed to be an omen of death. As Liebermann discovers more about this seemingly harmless man, he becomes convinced that his hallucinations are caused by a traumatic memory, buried deep in his unconscious. Could a mysterious dream hold the key? As the investigations proceed, Liebermann and Rheinhardt find themselves drawn into the worlds of art and couture, worlds in which glamorous appearances mask the most sinister secrets.


OK I’m one of the few who is ahead of a number of readers out there at the moment and had the real pleasure of enjoying the latest book ahead of its release date. This really is what can only be described as classic Tallis, a tale of proportions that will keep you guessing, has wonderful throw away trivia and of course murder most foul with a hidden villain who must be unmasked. A great author and a real mystery is something that’s hard to top in the reading stakes of today and if anyone will keep the crime market alive and well its going to be Frank Tallis. A true genius in the art of deception.

1 comment:

Michelle Muto said...

Lots of good mystery suspense! I have family members who are always on the lookout for an author they haven't yet read, so I'll pass these along. Thanks!