Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Merely Mystery Reading Challenge - Death and the Maiden by Frank Tallis

It's 1903, which means for those of use living in the "future", WWI will start soon. But in Vienna, Dr Max Liebermann sees the anti-Semitic tension rising, and dismisses the uprising in Serbia. But all these big picture events don't matter, what this book is concerned with is to find the murderer of the famous opera diva Ida Rosenkrantz.

If you've read this series before, you'll know that this series uses psychology, or psychology as it was understood then to solve crimes. Dr Liebermann is a musical psychologist, who offers consultation to his friend Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt. He (Dr Liebermann), is also a big fan of Freud, which is why most of the interpretations regarding the character of the victim/suspects go through a Freudian analysis. And for some reason, I felt that Dr Freud appeared the most in this book (but then again, I haven't read the whole series).

This series was very interesting, especially with the ending. I won't give spoilers (please please please don't let what I write be a spoiler), but suffice to say, this is one time where justice as we understand it is made to metaphorically bow down to a higher power. Rheinhardt is made to make a tough choice in this case, and I'm actually happy to see that he chooses his family ahead of his work.

And if you're a Dr Liebermann/Amelia fan, just prepare yourself for good news. And what I can say is "at last!".

Apart from all that, the other thing I found interesting was the appearance of religion. Dr Liebermann is a Jew, but claims not to believe in a God, yet I have this persistent feeling that he hungers for God. Of course, Freudian theories will never allow him to say that. Apart from this internal conflict that may exist only because I over-analyse, I thought that the anti-Semetism was very well portrayed. I'm not sure how it was in that era, but it felt real, the slow but sure rise in anti-Jewish sentiments.

Of course, the descriptions of music, food and the general evocation of the place was excellent. I don't really need to talk about it.

Since I'm using this as part of the Merely Mystery Reading Challenge, I could classify this under either the Historical or the Psychological Suspense. Can I use both?

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