Title: The Empty Mirror
Author: J. Sydney Jones
Release Date: January 20, 2009
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
From the dust jacket:
The summer of 1898 finds Austria terrorized by a killer who the press calls “Vienna’s Jack the Ripper.” Four bodies have already been found, but when the painter Gustav Klimt’s female model becomes the fifth victim, the police finger him as the culprit. The artist has already scandalized Viennese society with his erotically charged modern paintings. Who better to take the blame for the crimes that have plagued the city?
This is, however, far from an open-and-shut case. Klimt’s lawyer, Karl Werthen, has an ace up his sleeve. Dr. Hans Gross, the renowned father of criminology, has agreed to assist him in investigating the murders. Together, Gross and Werthen must not only clear Klimt’s name but also follow the trail of a killer that will lead them in the most surprising of directions. By uncovering the cause of the crimes that have shaken the city, the two men may risk damaging Vienna more than the murders did themselves.
Written by an acclaimed expert on Vienna and its history, The Empty Mirror introduces a new series of stunning historical mysteries that reveals the culture and curiosities of this fascinating fin de siècle metropolis.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first picked up The Empty Mirror, but I have to say I’m more than pleased with what I ended up with. This book has a little bit of everything: mystery, historical details, romance, and suspense. It should (and I hope it does) appeal to a broad range of people with its different facets.
Let’s start with the mystery. In The Empty Mirror, Jones takes the reader on a exciting ride, with twists and turns lurking around every corner. I never knew what to expect, but what I was presented with was always believable, never too far-fetched. The puzzle is wonderfully crafted and extremely gripping. The conclusion is not what I expected or even what I desired, but it is satisfying nonetheless.
The historical details of The Empty Mirror are exquisite as well. Jones really sets the scene, taking care to create the perfect atmosphere for turn-of-the-century Vienna. The book is centered on historical figures and events, and from what I can tell, the overarching events described in the novel are accurately portrayed. It’s nice to know that Jones undertook quite a bit of research in order have a historically accurate novel.
The characters are also wonderfully drawn. Both Gross and Werthen are interesting personages, with personalities and quirks of their own. Jones also draws other famous people into The Empty Mirror who were in Vienna at the time the book is set. Mark Twain, Alexander Herzl and Sigmund Freud, among others, are mentioned or make an appearance within its pages.
The Empty Mirror is a book that will delight both mystery and historical fiction fans. It’s well-written and engaging, and I definitely recommend it.
Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book to review!