Women Sleuths in
Historical Mysteries

Vienna, Austria - 1899

©1996-2013
womeninworldhistory.com

Requiem in Vienna

by J. Sydney Jones

After a third attempt on Gustav Mahler’s life, it is clear that someone is trying to kill the famous composer and director of Vienna’s state opera, the Hofoper. The question is, as disagreeable as Mahler might be, who wants him dead and why?

Karl Werthen, a young lawyer and private investigator, is elicited to answer this question. His new wife, Berthe, joins the investigation in a subordinate but vital role. Later, the real life Dr. Hans Gross, an expert in the new field of criminology, is added to the formidable investigative team.

Rather than stay a home and fulfill the social obligations of a middle class matron, Berthe chooses to help at her husband’s legal/investigation firm. A harbinger of the pre World War I “new woman,” she has elected to keep her own last name. Although she has cut back on her career as an educator and writer lately only writing one article on the Austrian peace movement and its female leaders, she still puts in time at the local settlement house she helped found. And, as the story unfolds Berthe’s insights are of equal weight to those of the two males investigators.

Requiem illuminates Vienna as one of this era’s most culturally rich cities. At times the plot seems to disappear under the author’s reference of so many famous names, places, and past events. Nonetheless, there are wonderful period descriptions of Viennese cafe life, food, and, of course, musical world. Ominously, however, the mayor of Vienna is the leader of the anti-Semitic Christian Democratic Party, and hints are given to indicate that the city’s assimilated Jewish population, to which Karl and Berthe belong, will face a threatened future.

An Author’s Note with information about who in the story was real, and who fictional would have helped.

The second in the Karl Werthen Vienna mysteries.

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