I came upon this series by chance and after reading the first book of five I’m off to the library to pick up the second book. Frank Tallis brings his professional skills as a psychologist into play when he sets the story in Vienna at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. That is the time of Freud and his revolutionary theories. It is also a time of the stirrings of enormous changes in Europe.
There are two protagonists—although this story is told primarily through the eyes of Max Lierbeman, a psychiatrist. Oskar, a police inspector and good friend of Max, often asks him for help or desires to consult with him about puzzling aspects of a case. The two men are good friends and their meetings usually take place at coffeehouses replete with strong coffee and delectably sounding pastries.
The case in review is the enigmatic murder of Fraulein Lowenstein who has been found inside a locked room in her home. What is perplexing is that while she has been shot in the heart no bullet is found nor is there an exit wound. The Fraulein was a spiritualist and some of her admirers, her circle of followers, suggest that she probed too deeply and unleashed “dark” spirits and those forces caused her death. Despite a suicide note the inspector does not think that her death was anything but murder.
It is the other story lines that add so much to Death in Vienna. Max’s romantic attachment and the disconnect the reader feels between his chosen and Max, the Anti-Semitism endemic at the time and the split between some of the methods employed by psychiatrists and the newer methodologies.