Title: Requiem in Vienna: A Viennese Mystery
Author: J. Sydney Jones
Release Date: February 2, 2010
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Lawyer-turned-private investigator Karl Werthen is back in this sequel to the execellent mystery novel The Empty Mirror. It’s 1899 in Vienna, and the renowned composer Johann Strauss has just died. The country is mourning his loss when a soprano singer practicing at the Court Opera is killed by a falling fire curtain. Though her death is deemed an accident, Alma Schindler believes that it was murder, and that the target was famed composer Gustav Mahler. She seeks out Werthen in order to determine who was behind the attack and to protect Mahler.
The Empty Mirror was an amazing historical mystery, so I was very excited when I heard it was going to be the first in a series. In Requiem in Vienna, J. Sydney Jones once again takes us back to Vienna at the turn of the century. His descriptions are vivid and incredibly detailed. He does a wonderful job making the reader feel like they are in Vienna, with all the sights, smells, and sounds coming to life in the reader’s mind.
In Requiem in Vienna, some of Jones’ characters are real historical composers, and it’s simply fascinating to watch them spring to life. They each have their own distinct personalities and quirks; Mahler, the most well-developed of the composers, is intriguing to behold. Jones does a wonderful job making these characters bright and vivid – historical fiction at its finest.
The mystery in this book is interesting and keeps the reader guessing until the very end. More than once, I thought I had figured out the conclusion, but Jones threw me for a loop every time. The pacing is also very good; the story moves forward quickly enough to keep the reader hooked, yet Jones also balances that with successfully drawing out the suspense of Requiem in Vienna.
It was wonderful to revisit with Werthen, and I was delighted that Jones developed his character more and moved his personal story forward. Often in mystery series, authors neglect the main character’s development after the first book in order to focus on plot; however, in Requiem in Vienna, Werthen’s own story moves along with the overarching mystery.
Requiem in Vienna was a thoroughly enjoyable book. This is a series I definitely recommend. Though you don’t have to read them in order, you would miss out on a lot of character development (not to mention an intriguing and well-written mystery) if you don’t read The Empty Mirror first. I can’t wait to see what Werthen is up to next!