A Place to Die: An Inspector Georg Büchner Mystery

A Place to Die: An Inspector Georg Büchner Mystery

by Dorothy James

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Overview

Eleanor and Franz Fabian arrive from New York to spend Christmas with Franz's mother in her sedate retirement home in the Vienna Woods. Their expectations are low: at best, boredom, at worst, run-of-the-mill family friction. But when the wealthy, charming Herr Graf is found dead in his apartment with an ugly head wound, the Fabians are thrust into a homicide investigation. Some residents and staff have surprising connections to the dead man, but who would have wanted to kill him? Inspector Büchner tracks down the murderer against a backdrop of Viennese history from the Nazi years to the present day. Witty, suspenseful, lyrical, this is a literary whodunit that will keep you guessing till the last page.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781450082716
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
Publication date: 04/21/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 553 KB

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Place to Die 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
AaronPaulLazar More than 1 year ago
A PLACE TO DIE is an intriguing story set in Austria, reminiscent of a good English mystery. I just finished reading it last night, and am already missing the characters. At first I was attracted to the book because it was set in Wien (Vienna) - I adore Wien. But then as I "visited" with these folks night after night (reading a little in bed each night), I grew terribly fond of them. I was particularly rooting for American Eleanor Fabian, a woman of great depth who deserved much more in life than her annoying husband provided. I'm passionate about marriage and devotion in real life, I believe that once married one is duty-bound to stay married and devoted to each other, unless there's something truly awful going on. But Dorothy James convinced me otherwise with Eleanor. I enjoyed getting to know the other characters in the Haus Im Wald, too. Each was colorful, deliciously unique, and memorable. Inspector Georg Buchner is a fun lead, likeable as well as clever. Ms. James' vivid scene painting placed me smack dab in the middle of winter in Austria, and I felt as if I knew the Haus intimately by the end of the book. (I also craved Kaffee und Kuchen many times during the characters' dining events!) As people start dropping dead in the Haus im Wald, the tension builds. But never did Ms. James relinquish her literary approach to the situation, providing a steady source of introspection balanced with action and character development. The ending is most satisfying - a delightful and unexpected villain is revealed - and some of the sexual twists and innuendos were most surprising and added a bit of spice to the story as well. Ms. James writes smoothly, with no annoying typos or needs for extra editing which seems to be more and more prevalent these days when books are converted to Kindle format. This book was beautifully formatted and of very high caliber. I recommend this complex, highbrow-yet-addicting story, and look forward to future works by Dorothy James.
Stimulated-Outlet More than 1 year ago
This murder mystery takes place in an assisted living facility, where an increasing number of the elderly live out their days. In some ways, the horror of murder and death itself was muted as most of the "inmates", as James calls them, expect to die under the roof of the Haus im Wald (House in the Woods). In essence, death wasn't unusual; murder was. One act of violence throws a suspicious hue to all of the "natural deaths" and illnesses that follow, tempering the reader's interpretation of the events that unfold. The sense of despair, late romances, and attempts to live and retain some sort of control reminded me greatly of Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, though these characteristics of the aging were intensified and expanded upon in A Place to Die. Due to their isolation, they often forget about the outside world even as they themselves are forgotten, and this novel captures all of the emotions and struggles that come with that and the difficulty in retaining one's independence as age, infirmity, and strong-willed caretakers attempt to stay one's hand. At certain points, my frustration with the matrons of the facility was almost unbearable, perhaps because such highhanded figures do actually exist. As the book shifts between three points of view, and about a dozen suspects are introduced, my initial fear was that of mass chaos as I attempt to remember who everyone is. Many of them begin as caricatures of themselves, stereotypes of the youthful old man, the crotchety gentleman, the nagging fishwife, and the long-suffering husband. What happens as the novel progresses is that we see depth and human emotions that give each a distinct persona in the mind's eye, thus making it much easier to keep track of the many goings-on over the course of a mere four days. As a murder mystery, the novel succeeds in keeping the reader terribly confused. There were many points in the story where I pointed a finger at one potential murderer or another, especially as certain truths are brought to light, but then something else would occur to direct the blame elsewhere for another chapter or two. The final reveal was almost anticlimactic, but everything was explained in such a way that I still found it satisfying. With little to no background in German, it took a while to get used to the insertion of certain phrases and the use of German titles ("Frau" and "Herr"). That in itself was fine. There were a handful of sentences in the book that are a bit awkwardly worded, and the same verbs for speech are often repeated, but as a whole, the text flows comfortably and allows the reader to become engrossed in the story without frequent verbal tics getting in the way. For instance, the overuse of the word "said" only came to my attention when I started deliberately looking for it. This novel does what a good murder mystery should: it keeps your head turning from one direction to another as you try to piece together the real story, only to fail. What sets it apart is that it also achieves what many murder mysteries don't: solid characterizations that humanize the various players and bring them to life.
hideandread on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This murder mystery takes place in an assisted living facility, where an increasing number of the elderly live out their days. In some ways, the horror of murder and death itself was muted as most of the "inmates", as James calls them, expect to die under the roof of the Haus im Wald (House in the Woods). In essence, death wasn't unusual; murder was. One act of violence throws a suspicious hue to all of the "natural deaths" and illnesses that follow, tempering the reader's interpretation of the events that unfold.The sense of despair, late romances, and attempts to live and retain some sort of control reminded me greatly of Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, though these characteristics of the aging were intensified and expanded upon in A Place to Die. Due to their isolation, they often forget about the outside world even as they themselves are forgotten, and this novel captures all of the emotions and struggles that come with that and the difficulty in retaining one's independence as age, infirmity, and strong-willed caretakers attempt to stay one's hand. At certain points, my frustration with the matrons of the facility was almost unbearable, perhaps because such highhanded figures do actually exist.As the book shifts between three points of view, and about a dozen suspects are introduced, my initial fear was that of mass chaos as I attempt to remember who everyone is. Many of them begin as caricatures of themselves, stereotypes of the youthful old man, the crotchety gentleman, the nagging fishwife, and the long-suffering husband. What happens as the novel progresses is that we see depth and human emotions that give each a distinct persona in the mind's eye, thus making it much easier to keep track of the many goings-on over the course of a mere four days.As a murder mystery, the novel succeeds in keeping the reader terribly confused. There were many points in the story where I pointed a finger at one potential murderer or another, especially as certain truths are brought to light, but then something else would occur to direct the blame elsewhere for another chapter or two. The final reveal was almost anticlimactic, but everything was explained in such a way that I still found it satisfying.With little to no background in German, it took a while to get used to the insertion of certain phrases and the use of German titles ("Frau" and "Herr"). That in itself was fine. There were a handful of sentences in the book that are a bit awkwardly worded, and the same verbs for speech are often repeated, but as a whole, the text flows comfortably and allows the reader to become engrossed in the story without frequent verbal tics getting in the way. For instance, the overuse of the word "said" only came to my attention when I started deliberately looking for it.With a background in pharmacy, my senses perked up with the mention of various prescription medications, and I was thankful that the doses were believable, and the risks discussed are accurate. My one bone of contention is that the names of generic products were capitalized. I imagine that something like that wouldn't really bother those outside of healthcare, however, and so I'm letting it go.This novel does what a good murder mystery should: it keeps your head turning from one direction to another as you try to piece together the real story, only to fail. What sets it apart is that it also achieves what many murder mysteries don't: solid characterizations that humanize the various players and bring them to life.
shelleyraec on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"The drama of their lives is played out within their own walls, The residents of Melanchthon also find that the small dramas involving one another consume more of their remaining life energies than any larger dramas in the outside world. Even visitors are drawn in if they stay more than a day or so"p128James has crafted an intelligent mystery that weaves together an intricate web of emotion and secrets. At Haus im Wauld, a residential aged care facility, an elderly resident is found bludgeoned to death in his room. There is no shortage of motives or suspects in the case , the care home is a surprising maelstrom of intrigue. Someone is writing nasty notes to residents, two patients have died in the last month and now a man has been murdered. Carefully layering misdirection and clues, James sustains the suspense as Inspector Georg Buchner investigates.Inspector Georg Buchner is a laid back, traditional detective who uses the unusual technique of immersing himself in the community to find the killer. I felt Buchner could have been more active in his investigation but I also liked his thoughtful analysis of the residents as he pokes and prods at the characters, uncovering secrets and lies.Eleanor Fabian is a major character in the novel even though she is only ever peripherally involved in events surrounding the murder. Eleanor is reluctantly helping to settle her difficult mother in law into Haus im Wauld when the murder occurs. To distract herself from her unhappy marriage to Franz, an unpleasant man who is resentful towards both his mother and wife, she uses her connection to another resident to engage in some amateur sleuthing. The disintegration of her marriage as Eleanor and Franz considers the life they have left together makes for an interesting subplot. While the murder mystery drives the plot, it also serves as a catalyst to explore James' brilliantly crafted characters. James gives each of her characters the dignity of a realistic, well rounded and distinct personality. There are no sexless sweet old ladies knitting in an armchair, Frau Hagen is the enigmatic lover of the victim, Sister Barbara harbours a secret love for the unpleasant Sister Agatha and Frau Huber likes to ensure her patients are satisfied with her care. Similarly, the victim has a prescription for Viagra, Dr Hofer 's bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired and Director Shrumm has his own secrets he wants to keep. James doesn't shy away from issues that are usually glossed over where aging is concerned and this adds to the depth of the characters as well as the story.A Place To Die is a beautifully written mystery with an unexpected wit and honesty in the narrative and skilfully realised characters in a unique setting. This is a unique literary mystery that is a wonderful read.I am thrilled that Dorothy consented to my request for an interview and has offered to giveaway a copy of A Place To Die to one lucky reader. Make sure you come back to my blog tomorrow to meet her.
caitemaire on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Neither Eleanor or Franz Fabien are too thrilled to leave their home in New York to fly to Franz's home in Vienna to visit his mother. But she recently had to move into an assisted living facility and he feels it is his duty, even if they really do not get along and he tries to keep contact to a minimum. Haus im Wald seems like a pleasant enough place..well, until one of the residents, a rather dashing older man with an active social life, ends up bludgeoned to dead and police inspector Georg Buchner takes up temporary residence to solve the crime. But as even more people die both we and Buchner have to ask ourselves just how deep these mysteries may go.There are a number of sub-plots that greatly add to the interest of the story. A number of the characters, not unusual considering the setting, spend a fair bit of time musing the subject of growing older. And again, considering the people involved and their age, the last generation that was alive during WWII and shortly after the war, the subject of living during the presence of the Nazi regime plays not a insignificant roll in the story.But ultimately, this is a character driven book. This is not a cozy little mystery, full of sweet old people. No, the characters of A Place to Die are an interesting and complex group, with present day passions and secrets that reach back to the time of the Nazis. American Eleanor Fabian is at the center of the story and one of the few really likable people we meet. I think you will soon agree that she deserves a better life that being married to the quite annoying Franz. And then there is Inspector Buchner, who will make a great lead for a new series. He is smart and low key as he slowly and carefully untangles all the relationships and tries to make sense of each resident's version of what happen on the day the murder took place.But each of the minor characters is great as well. We have the rather smarmy Dr. Hofer, a private physician to many of the residents, Frau Huber, the housekeeper, who, shall we say, like to take a hands on interest in seeing that everyone is satisfied with her care. We have the retired Lutheran religious sisters, Sister Agatha and Sister Barbara, who are the basis for more than a few rumors and, of course, Frau Hagen, a retired opera singer and the reason the murdered man had a Viagra prescription. These are just a few of a rather large cast, but each character is so well flesh out that the reader should have little problem keeping them all straight. And each is interesting in their own way..and a good suspect in the murder.These folks may be old, but they are not dead yet.Well..except for the ones that die.
Tmtrvlr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Place to Die is a well-written traditional mystery with mature characters in a unique setting. It is an interesting look into an assisted living facility divided between those who can still care for themselves and then the dreaded section where more assistance is needed. There are many characters living in this facility and their loves and friendships are portrayed in detail. It is the type of mystery that is well thought out, painstakingly described, and comes around full circle for the conclusion. It was a little difficult for me to follow the characters at first until I got used to the terms Herr and Frau before the names. I thought two of the three main characters were rather unpleasant and their unhappy relationship grated on me. There were some unexpected sexual situations dropped into the story that were just too awkward to add to the story. Inspector Buchner, however, was wonderful, and I look forward to reading more with his character. ,
melydia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eleanor and Franz Fabian are visiting Franz's elderly mother at her nursing home in Vienna, Austria. While they are there, an unexpected bit of drama crops up: one of the residents is brutally murdered on Christmas Day. Inspector Georg Büchner arrives on the scene and methodically goes through all the evidence, unweaving the tangle of lies and contradictions and unrelated issues to find the culprit. I enjoyed the musings on aging, the (too brief) discussion of the post-WWII climate in Austria, and the vivid descriptions of the Vienna woods. I also found the subplot of Eleanor's marital problems and amateur sleuthing enhanced the main story rather than taking away from it. I'm not much of a murder mystery aficionado, and in fact don't generally seek them out, but this one was really good. I really liked Büchner (though I am not familiar with his namesake) and Eleanor, and I'd be curious to see more of Frau Dr. Lessing in the future. All in all, a fun read. I may even have to start following the Inspector Georg Büchner Mystery series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LynnMichelsohn More than 1 year ago
Dorothy James' engaging novel involves the efforts of a Viennese police detective and a middle-aged American "Miss Marple" to solve the murder of a retirement home resident in Austria's famed Vienna Woods. James populates her murder mystery with interesting characters and places them in an unusual setting. Her inclusion of incidental details creates a world so rich that I felt like I, myself, was a visitor in the "House in the Woods." She cleverly weaves these details (for example, the difference between rooms with and without carpeting) into the story in subtle ways to illuminate both place and character, and to reinforce psychological themes of the book. Her characters and the world James creates for them were central to my enjoyment of this book. Residents came to life as distinct and often quirky individuals. Getting to know each one was a treat. I often thought, "I know someone like that." Amazingly, James creates these highly individualized personalities by describing only small details and brief interactions. Inspector Georg Buchner, of the book's subtitle, seems an interesting and pleasant enough man. However, I found Eleanor Fabian, who views herself as a would-be Jane Marple, the more sympathetic and ultimately the more interesting character. As I got to know her hopes and concerns, her delights and frustrations, I came to care about her as a person. I hope she reappears in future books in the series. James' handling of the murder investigation deepens interest and suspense. The solution to the mystery seemingly becomes more elusive with each new revelation as we (Inspector Buchner, Eleanor, and I) get to know more about the residents of this retirement home, their histories, their secrets, and the history of Vienna itself. While the clever "who-done-it" structure of this mystery will appeal to all ages, James' insights into concerns of aging will especially resonate with "aging baby-boomers." Her characters confront issues of independence, loneliness, physical and mental decline, and uncertain finances in thought-provoking ways, but she adds enough optimism, determination, and humor to keep the story from becoming depressing. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery novel with greater depth than the usual quick read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JayaG More than 1 year ago
I'm writing a murder mystery set in Vienna, so I googled "Vienna mystery" to see what else was out there. Up popped this wonderful book! The characters are very well drawn, some endearing, others repulsive.The book takes place in the present during a short period around Christmas, but because it is set in an old-age home, the author is able to weave in Austrian history all the way back to pre-World War II times. The plot is ingenious but completely plausible. One thing I really like is the double meaning of the title: it seems to relate not only to the home but to the personal life of Eleanor, the main character. The Austrian detective is someone I want to get to know better - reminds me a bit of Kurt Wallander. Can't wait to read the sequel!