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Fatal Lies (Max Liebermann Series #3)

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  • Posted August 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Murder in beguiling Vienna

    Detective Inspector Oskar Reinhardt and young Freudian psychologist Dr. Max Liebermann team up for the third time over the death of a boy at St. Florian's, a secretive, repressive, elite school near Vienna.

    It's the beginning of the 20th century and Vienna is a glittering jewel of cutting edge ideas, gorgeous, sensual music, and wonderful food, especially the rich and elaborate pastries.

    St. Florian's however, is steeped in tradition, an insular place teeming with cliques and hazing rituals. The dead boy - a scholarship student, abused by a thuggish group of aristocratic boys - is marked with ritual cuts. Making little headway with his close-mouthed witnesses, Reinhardt calls in Liebermann whose Freudian ideas may provide some insight. The reader, meanwhile, has the benefit of inside knowledge - the viewpoint of Wolf, the boys' psychopathic leader, inspired by the ideas of Nietzsche.

    While the mystery provides the bones of the plot, Vienna and the protagonists' lives flesh it out. It's ball season and the lush waltzes lend headiness to Liebermann's enchantment with Miss Lydgate, an intellectual English girl and former patient. However, jealousy rears its ugly head and Liebermann consoles himself with a beautiful and rather wanton Hungarian violinist who introduces him to absinthe. Other evenings ring with his and Reinhardt's companionable vocal and piano duets.

    Tallis, a London clinical psychologist, has produced a witty, atmospheric and beautifully written series brimming with the enthusiasm and sophistication of new ideas for a new century, coupled with the grandeur and stateliness of old Vienna. This heady atmosphere pervades the comfortable, well-padded life of the cultured upper class, well insulated from the poorer classes and the new political ideas brewing in more radical circles.

    Newcomers will be sure to seek out the earlier books, "A Death in Vienna," and "Vienna Blood," while fans will look forward to the fourth book, "Darkness Rising," to be published here next year.

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  • Posted April 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Enjoyable reading, something to look forward to, interesting view of turn of the century Vienna

    I read the books in chronological order, waiting impatiently for the 2nd to come out after reading the 1st, likewise waiting for the 3rd. I like the main characters, the setting, and being taken into the midst of early 20th century Vienna, warts and all.

    I got the bad feeling that the 3rd book was the last, but hope it is not so. Plenty of storyline left and Max Liebermann needs to resolve his pursuit of his former patient. And perhaps a young Adolf Hitler can be brought into one of the future books. A chance encounter with Liebermann's muse, Dr Freud.

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  • Posted February 10, 2009

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    Using real famous Vienna persona to anchor time and place, Frank Tallis writes a great historical mystery

    Headmaster Julis Eichmann runs St. Florian's Military Academy near Vienna with an iron fist. However, when fifteen year old student Thomas Zelenka is found dead, Police Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt and psychotherapist Dr. Max Liebermann lead the official inquiry though the latter detests time away from Hungarian musician Trezska Novak.<BR/><BR/>On the surface, there is no evidence of a homicide though the two sleuths wonder why the victim has so many cuts and scratches all over his torso even under his armpits. Although no one cooperates, especially the headmaster, the investigators soon learn of sexual trysts between the faculty and staff with the students. Especially alarming is an alleged encounter between the dead teen and a teacher Herr Sommer as well as the pupil with the wife of the assistant headmaster. Finally they uncover a student cult dedicated to Nietzsche led by the nephew of Police Commissioner Brugel, who already loathes the use of Freudian psychology in official investigations.<BR/><BR/>Using real famous Vienna persona to anchor time and place, Frank Tallis writes a great historical mystery. The story line is fast-paced as the lead sleuths follow clues that take them into diverse directions. The whodunit is clever, but once again as with BLOOD AND DEATH IN VIENNA, it is the profound look at intellectual Vienna circa 1900 that owns the novel.<BR/><BR/>Harriet Klausner

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    Posted January 7, 2011

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    Posted September 25, 2010

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