Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Empty Mirror

The Empty Mirror
Author: J. Sydney Jones
Minotaur Books, 2009
320 pages

I've found an author who seems to love Vienna as much as I do. J. Sydney Jones has published three books (so far) in his Viennese Mystery series -- The Empty Mirror is the first. Set in 1898 as the sun is setting on the Habsburg Empire, this wonderful series features fiction-writing attorney Karl Werthen and his criminologist colleague Hanns Gross.

There's a murderer on the loose in Vienna, and when one of the victims turns out to be one of artist Gustav Klimt's models, the painter himself is arrested and jailed. Werthen happens to be his attorney, and although the Advocat isn't a criminal lawyer, the truth is, he'd like to be.

Of course, we know that Klimt isn't a killer, but the real killer must be found. As Werthen and Gross pursue him, they cross paths with the likes of Mark Twain and Franz Ferdinand. They also spend time in places in Vienna that I used to frequent when I lived there, such as Café Landtmann, the Ringstrasse, and the Prater. I could taste the coffee, the Kipferl, and the Wiener schnitzel as I worked my way through. It was like going back home, while also going back in time.

I love a good blend of history and fiction, and The Empty Mirror didn't disappoint me. Woven into the serial killer storyline are other stories based on actual historical events, such as the mysterious death of Crown Prince Rupert and the assassination of Empress Elisabeth ("Sisi") in Geneva. There are also a couple of references to that famous Viennese psychotherapist, Sigmund Freud. Perhaps Freud will appear in a future Viennese Mystery. I'll keep reading this series!