In glittering turn-of-the-century Vienna, brutal instinct and refined intellect fight for supremacy. The latest, most disturbing example: the mysterious and savage death of a young cadet in the most elite of military academies, St. Florian’s. Even using his cutting-edge investigative techniques, Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt cannot crack the school’s closed and sadistic world. He must again enlist the aid of his frequent ally, Dr. Max Liebermann, an expert in Freudian psychology. But how can Liebermann help when he a crisis of his own: handling his conflicted and forbidden feelings for two different women, one a former patient? As the case unfolds, powerful forces will stop at nothing to keep a dark secret.
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The baroque ballroom was filled with flowers. Beneath three radiant chandeliers more than a hundred couples were rotating in near-perfect synchrony. The men were dressed in black tails, piqué shirts, and white gloves, the women in gowns of tulle and crêpe de chine. On a raised platform a small orchestra was playing Strauss’s Rosen aus dem Süden, and when the waltz king’s famous heartwarming melody was reprised, a number of onlookers began a sympathetic humming chorus—smiling with recognition and benign sentimentality.
Liebermann felt Amelia Lyd?gate’s right hand tighten with anxiety in his left. A vertical line appeared on her forehead as she struggled to follow his lead.
“I do apologize, Dr. Liebermann. I am such a poor dancer.”
She was wearing a skirted décolleté gown of green velvet, and her flaming red hair was tied up in silver ribbons. The pale unblemished planes of her shoulders reminded the young doctor of polished Italian marble.
“Not at all,” said Liebermann. “You are doing very well for a novice. Might I suggest, however, that you listen more carefully to the music. The beat.”
The Englishwoman returned a puzzled expression. “The beat,” she repeated.
“Yes, can you not”—Liebermann paused, and made an effort to conceal his disbelief—“feel it?”
Liebermann’s right hand pressed gently against Amelia’s back, emphasizing the first accented beat in each bar. However, his guidance had no noticeable effect on her performance.
“Very well, then,” said Liebermann. “Perhaps you will find the following useful: the natural turn consists of three steps in which you move forward and rotate clockwise by one hundred and eighty degrees, followed by three steps in which you move backward and rotate again by one hundred and eighty degrees. For the forward turn you move forward on your right foot, rotating it to the right by ninety degrees, followed by your left foot, rotated another ninety degrees so that it is now facing backward. . . .”
Amelia stopped, tilted her head to one side, and considered these instructions. Then, looking directly into Liebermann’s eyes, she said plainly: “Thank you, Dr. Liebermann, that is an altogether superior explanation. Let us proceed.”
Remarkably, when they began to dance again, Amelia’s movements were considerably more fluid.
“Excellent,” said Liebermann. “Now, if you lean back a little, we will be able to go faster.” Amelia did as she was instructed, and they began to revolve more rapidly. “I believe,” continued Liebermann, “that the optimal speed of the Viennese waltz is said to be approximately thirty revolutions per minute.” He saw Amelia glance at his exposed wristwatch. “However, I do not think it will be necessary for us to gauge our performance against this nominal ideal.”
As they swung by the orchestra, they were overtaken by a portly couple who—in spite of their ample physiques—danced with a nimbleness and grace that seemed to defy gravity.
“Good heavens,” said Amelia, unable to conceal her amazement. “Is that Inspector Rheinhardt?”
“It is,” said Liebermann, raising an eyebrow.
“He and his wife are very . . . accomplished.”
“They are indeed,” said Liebermann. “However, it is my understanding that Inspector Rheinhardt and his wife are more practiced than most. During Fasching not only do they attend this—the de- tect?ives’ ball—but they are also regular patrons of the waiters’ ball, the hatmakers’ ball, the philharmonic ball, and, as one would expect”—Liebermann smiled mischievously—“the good inspector has a particu?lar fondness for the pastry makers’ ball.”
As they wheeled past a pair of carved gilt double doors, Liebermann saw a police constable enter the ballroom. His plain blue uniform and spiked helmet made him conspicuous among the elegant tailcoats and gowns. His cheeks were flushed and he looked as though he had been running. The young man marched directly over to Commissioner Brügel, who was standing next to the impeccably dressed Inspector Victor von Bulow and a party of guests from the Hungarian security office.
Earlier in the evening, Liebermann had tried to engage the Hungarians in some polite conversation but had found them rather laconic. He had ascribed their reserve to Magyar melancholy, a medical peculiarity with which he, and most of his colleagues in Vienna, were well acquainted.
Liebermann lost sight of the group as Amelia and he continued their circumnavigation of the ballroom. When they had completed another circuit, he was surprised to see Else Rheinhardt standing on her own and looking toward her husband—who was now talking to Commissioner Brügel and the breathless young constable. Liebermann’s observation coincided with the brassy fanfares that brought the waltz to its clamorous conclusion. The revelers cheered and applauded the orchestra. Liebermann bowed, pressed Amelia’s fingers to his lips, and, taking her hand, led her toward Else Rheinhardt.
“I think something’s happened,” said Else.
Manfred Brügel was a stocky man with a large, blockish head and oversize muttonchop whiskers. He was addressing Rheinhardt, while occasionally questioning the young constable. Rheinhardt was listening intently. In due course, Rheinhardt clicked his heels and turned to find his wife and friends.
“My dear,” said Rheinhardt, affectionately squeezing Else’s arm, “I am so very sorry . . . but there has been an incident.” He glanced briefly at Liebermann, tacitly communicating that the matter was serious. “I am afraid I must leave at once.”
“Isn’t there anyone on duty at Schottenring?” asked Else.
“Koltschinsky has developed a bronchial illness, and Storfer—on being informed of the said incident—rushed from the station, slipped on some ice, and cracked his head on the pavement.”
“What extraordinary bad luck,” said Liebermann.
“Why is it always you?” said Else. “Can’t somebody else go? What about von Bulow?”
“I believe he has some important business to discuss with our Hungarian friends.” The air suddenly filled with the shimmering of tremolando violins, against which two French horns climbed a simple major triad. Nothing in the whole of music was so artless, yet so distinctive. “Ah,” said Rheinhardt, “what a shame . . . The Blue Danube.” He looked at his wife and his eyes filled with regret.
“Oskar,” said Liebermann. “Can I be of any assistance? Would you like me to come with you?”
Rheinhardt shook his head.
“I would much rather you kept my dear wife and Miss Lyd?gate entertained. Now, where’s Haussmann?” The Inspector looked around the ballroom and discovered his assistant standing with a group of cavalrymen, gazing wistfully at a pretty young debutante in white. Heavy blond coils bounced against her cheeks. Haussmann, having clearly been engaged in a protracted surveillance operation, was about to reveal himself. He was clutching a single red rose. “Oh, no,” said Rheinhardt under his breath.
The inspector kissed his wife, apologized to Amelia, and clasped Liebermann’s hand. Then, moving quickly, he managed to intercept the rose just before Haussmann had reached his quarry.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I found it very difficult to put down. While some areas were boring (as most books have that lull during some parts), the rest was exciting! You start reading it and think, ¿How on earth are these stories related?¿. Keeping reading. You will eventually realize that everyone in the story knows everyone else. Everything is intertwined and you don¿t realize that everything you see will end up somewhere else with a shocking turn. I didn¿t want the book to end because I wanted to see if they would find out where he was or if he would eventually tell the truth. The only problem I had with this book was the German (yes, there are German words in here) and the words that seemed like another language to me, but they were in English. I don¿t have as wide as a vocabulary as some readers so I was constantly writing words down so I can look them up at a later date. Other than that, I loved it!
It was, in part, the inspiration of Robert Musil's novella, The Confusions of Young Torless, about a young cadet struggling toward self-definition while experiencing the erotic tensions of puberty, that led Frank Tallis to write the mystery novel Fatal Lies.The heart of the mystery is the machinations a small group of cadets led by Kiefer Wolf, a precocious underclassman. They are attending a private boys' school, Saint Florian, that is replete with ancient traditions and eccentric teachers. It is this story line that draws on Musil's novella most directly with the addition of explicit Nietzschean influences on young Wolf. But the key to the success of Tallis' novel is his intelligent use of the setting of fin-de-siecle Vienna and the blend of medicine, music, psychology and history that makes this a satisfying read. The lead detective, Reinhardt and his ally, Dr. Max Liebermann, an expert in the new psychiatric methods of Sigmund Freud, are both intelligent and believable characters in this well-constructed mystery. Each of the main characters must deal with their own issues and their stories are only slightly less interesting than the primary mystery. I was eagerly apprehensive most of the novel as the plot and sub-plots moved forward with alacrity. The climax was also satisfying; So much so that I look forward to reading Tallis' two previous mysteries (also set in Vienna).
Much more concise and taut than the previous two books in this series, Fatal Lies begins with the death of a student at a Viennese military academy. Police inspector Oskar Rheinhardt is called away from a ball to go to the scene; he enlists his friend Max Liebermann, a psychiatrist to go with him. Max has been helpful in the past with his experience in Freudian psychology, and Rheinhardt is all for employing new methods in police procedure to better root out crime. The two don't realize it yet, but they are stepping into a very troubled atmosphere in the academy, where odd things are occurring and everyone is doing their best to cover things up. Tallis plies his readers once again with the culinary, musical and literary delights of early 20th-century Vienna, yet manages to interweave all of these with the darkness of international intrigue and the deep and brooding atmosphere of a group of troubled boys. It is a good read, and one that's hard to put down once you get started. I'd definitely recommend this one to readers of historical mysteries, as well as to those who have started this series and are considering moving through it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.