Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 41.
- Review Date: 2009-11-16
- Reviewer: Staff
Set in 1899, Jones's fine second Viennese mystery (after 2009's The Empty Mirror) opens with a falling fire curtain narrowly missing Gustav Mahler, the director of the Vienna Court Opera, but killing a soprano during a stage rehearsal. Lawyer and private inquirer Karl Werthen teams with criminologist Hanns Gross to look into this and subsequent “accidents” apparently aimed at Mahler. As the investigation descends into the “damned politics of music,” Mahler, a former Jew who must be careful to hide his contempt for fellow composer Richard Wagner, emerges as the nexus for an “ever-widening pool of suspects.” Complicating matters are big changes in Werthen's home life, in particular wife Berthe's pregnancy. Jones, the author of Hitler in Vienna, 1907–1913 and other nonfiction books about the city, smoothly blends a compelling period whodunit with bountiful cultural and social details. (Jan.)