Empty Mirror

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Overview

The summer of 1898 finds Austria terrorized by a killer who the press calls “Vienna’s Jack the Ripper.” Four bodies have already been found, but when the painter Gustav Klimt’s female model becomes the fifth victim, the police finger him as the culprit. The artist has already scandalized Viennese society with his erotically charged modern paintings. Who better to take the blame for the crimes that have plagued the city?

This is, however, far from an open-and-shut case. Klimt’s ...

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The Empty Mirror: A Viennese Mystery

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Overview

The summer of 1898 finds Austria terrorized by a killer who the press calls “Vienna’s Jack the Ripper.” Four bodies have already been found, but when the painter Gustav Klimt’s female model becomes the fifth victim, the police finger him as the culprit. The artist has already scandalized Viennese society with his erotically charged modern paintings. Who better to take the blame for the crimes that have plagued the city?

This is, however, far from an open-and-shut case. Klimt’s lawyer, Karl Werthen, has an ace up his sleeve. Dr. Hans Gross, the renowned father of criminology, has agreed to assist him in investigating the murders. Together, Gross and Werthen must not only clear Klimt’s name but also follow the trail of a killer that will lead them in the most surprising of directions. By uncovering the cause of the crimes that have shaken the city, the two men may risk damaging Vienna more than the murders did themselves.

Written by an acclaimed expert on Vienna and its history, The Empty Mirror introduces a new series of stunning historical mysteries that reveals the culture and curiosities of this fascinating fin de siècle metropolis.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Advance Praise for The Empty Mirror

“What Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did for Victorian London and Caleb Carr did for old New York, Sydney Jones does for historic Vienna. The Empty Mirror is a new classic mystery for discerning readers." —Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of the Queen Elizabeth I mystery series

“An intriguing, dark novel woven around historical facts and figures, set in the lush, breathing labyrinth of Klimt’s Vienna.” —Noah Charney, author of The Art Thief

“A rollicking roller-coaster ride through Vienna’s Prater Park complete with mysterious murders, a carload of famous names, and a pair of detectives who know enough about Viennese pastries to make your mouth water. History and fiction cleverly combined by a master storyteller.” —Michael Gregorio, author of Critique of Criminal Reason

Patrick Anderson
At the outset, The Empty Mirror reads like a conventional serial-killer novel: Who is the madman, and why is he cutting off people's noses? But Jones, who has lived in Vienna and written nonfiction books about the city, carries his novel to a more interesting level…In recent years, fin-de-siecle Vienna has shown signs of becoming to literary thrillers what 1940s Los Angeles is to noir. The Empty Mirror, a colorful story that neatly combines fact and fiction, suggests why.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Set in Vienna in 1898, Jones's absorbing whodunit succeeds both as a mystery and as a fascinating portrait of a traditional society in ferment. When artist Gustav Klimt becomes a suspect in a series of bizarre murders, he turns for help to his lawyer friend, Karl Werthen, who joins forces with real-life pioneering criminologist Hanns Gross. Werthen and Gross follow a trail that leads through all strata of Viennese society and threatens to put them at odds with not only a trained killer but powerful members of the ruling class. Jones skillfully incorporates into his narrative many of the notable figures who lived in Vienna at the time. Some, like Klimt and sexologist Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing, play important roles, while others, like Zionist founder Theodor Herzl and visiting American author Mark Twain, make brief but highly appropriate appearances. Jones (Time of the Wolf) delivers a meaty historical that bodes well for further adventures. (Jan.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

In the summer of 1892, a series of ritual murders terrifies fin-de-siècle Vienna. When the fifth victim is the model of painter Gustav Klimt, the artist falls under suspicion. His lawyer, Karl Werthen, and criminologist Hanns Gross set out to solve these killings. Featuring a full cast of historical characters, including psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Mark Twain, and Archduke Franz Ferdinand, this debut mystery by the author of Hitler in Vienna, 1907-1913 heads toward a surprising ending. For larger collections. [A Minotaur First Edition selection.]


—Jo Ann Vicarel
Kirkus Reviews
In turn-of-the-century Vienna, a lawyer and a criminologist team up to exonerate their friend Gustav Klimt from a false charge of murder. When police turn his studio upside-down seeking clues in the murder of Liesel Landtauer, a distressed Klimt visits his close friend and lawyer Karl Werthen. One of Klimt's favorite models, "Sweet Liesel" is the latest in a string of victims who have prompted headline references to "Vienna's Jack the Ripper." Werthen appeals to mutual friend Doktor Hanns Gross, a real-life star in the nascent field of criminology who authored Criminal Psychology, to prove Klimt's innocence. They question Liesel's landlady and her grieving parents. And they both exasperate and commiserate with beleaguered police Inspektor Meindl, who admits that the evidence against the artist is thin but insists he's the most likely suspect to feed a public and press demanding the killer's capture. Once Klimt is taken into custody, Werthen and Gross enact a series of Holmes-and-Watson-style deductions based on body temperature, the depth and angle of the fatal blade's slashes and so on. A new murder while he's incarcerated wins Klimt's release. But his exoneration doesn't satisfy the duo's desire to solve the crime, piqued even more when Meindl receives a taunting letter from the killer. Their probe turns into a dangerous adventure with a violent finale. A well-appointed period mystery with interesting roman a clef notes that remains appealing despite the sometimes flat-footed prose of Jones (Hitler in Vienna, 2002, etc.). Agent: Alexandra Machinist/Linda Chester Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312383893
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 1/20/2009
  • Series: Viennese Mysteries Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

J. Sydney Jones is the author of twelve books, including the nonfiction Hitler in Vienna, 1907—1913, the guides Viennawalks and Vienna Inside-Out, and the suspense novel Time of the Wolf. In 1968 he was a student in Vienna and later returned to live there for almost two decades. He currently lives near Santa Cruz, California.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 3, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    Enjoyed It

    3-1/2 stars from me. The author gives a wonderful description of Vienna, although at times can go into a little too much detail, which slowed the pace of the book for me. Overall, I enjoyed the mystery, (quirky) characters and setting of this book, and would definitely read the next mystery these fellows find themselves in the middle of.

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  • Posted November 14, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    terrific investigative tale

    The Empty Mirror<BR/>J. Sydney Jones<BR/>Dunne, Jan 2009, $24.95<BR/>ISBN 9780312383893<BR/><BR/>In the 1890s several inexplicable violent murders rock Vienna. As Austrians watch in fascinating fear, the police suspect artist Gustav Klimt as the culprit predominantly based on the fifth victim Liesel Landtauer who was his model, but lack solid evidence to convict him although they raided his studio. Concerned that he could become the fall guy if police Inspektor Meindl fails to nail the brutal serial killer soon, he asks his friend lawyer Karl Werthen for help. Karl wants to assist Gustav, but also accepts he is out of his element at this point with the need of an investigative expert to take charge.<BR/><BR/>As Klimt is proven right when the police arrest him on inadequate evidence, Werthen asks criminologist Dr. Hanns Gross to help him uncover the identity of "Vienna's Jack the Ripper." He agrees and with Werthen at his side, Gross begins to follow clues that lead to all segments of Venetian society even as a sixth homicide frees Klimt who has the perfect alibi. However as the killer watches their progress and even sends taunting mail to authorities, influential members of high society want their inquiry stopped while the police continue to focus on Klimt as their end game.<BR/><BR/>Using real persona in key roles (including Klimt the artist who had the Malkovich movie made of him two years ago and the founder of criminology Gross), J Sydney Jones anchors time and place giving this terrific investigative tale a major historical feel to the story line. Plausible cameos enhance the feel of being in Vienna in the 1890s. The serial killer investigation filled with twists hooks the audience. Historical and late Victorian mystery fans will both relish this excellent whodunit.<BR/><BR/>Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted May 1, 2009

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