An operatic diva, Ida Rosenkrantz, is found dead in her luxurious villa. It appears that she has taken an overdose of morphine, but a broken rib, discovered during autopsy, suggests other and more sinister possibilities. Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt seeks the assistance of his young friend, the psychoanalyst Dr Max Liebermann, and they begin their inquiries at Vienna's majestic opera house, where its director, Gustav Mahler, is struggling to maintain a pure artistic vision while threatened on all sides by pompous bureaucrats, vainglorious singers, and a hostile press.
When the demagogue Mayor of Vienna, Karl Lueger, becomes the prime suspect - with an election only months away - the Rosenkrantz case becomes politically explosive. The trail leads Rheinhardt and Liebermann, via a social climbing professor of psychiatry, to the Hofburg palace and the mysterious Lord Marshal's office - a shadowy bureau that deals ruthlessly with enemies of the ageing Emperor Franz Josef.
As the investigation proceeds, the investigators are placed in great personal danger, as corruption is exposed at the very highest levels. Meanwhile, Liebermann pursues two private obsessions: a coded message in a piece of piano music, and the alluring Englishwoman, Miss Amelia Lydgate.
Romance and high drama collide as the Habsburg Empire teeters on the edge of scandal and ruin.
This sixth Viennese mystery to feature the sleuthing double-act of detective Oskar Rheinhardt and psychoanalyst Max Liebermann should satisfy Frank Tallis's old admirers and seduce new ones
A serious, well-informed and interesting novel
With plenty of entertaining, intelligent dialogue and two subplots... this novel convinces with every word
Costume drama at its best. The ethos of turn-of-the-century Vienna...is very seductive. Tallis has done his research to good effect, and it seems that the only really fictional element in the whole novel is the crime itself. The elegance of the highbrow conversations between the main characters is winning...All this makes for pleasant reading, while the descriptions of the elaborate good manners and old-fashioned moral code are soothing. And yet there is an edge to what might otherwise be cloying...luxuriously enjoyable
Tallis's mysteries seduce a legion of fans with well-crafted intrigues and sumptuous atmospheres. This latest adds to its rich mix a terrific cameo from the tyrant of the opera: Gustav Mahler