Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Photo: the paperback book's cover, from Google images. Finally, an image of the edition I actually read. This is one of the five books I bought for $20, because I like the series so much. Can't find the sixth one I'm missing...
Done with Frank Tallis yet? I wouldn't blame you. I'm binge reading these, but they're worth it. Thank Stephen King for mentioning Tallis in an interview, when asked to name a recent, good mystery series.
Another successful Max Leibermann novel, #3 in the series. In this one, a young man has been murdered in a military school. Cadets and administrators are suspected, a la A Few Good Men. The guy in charge is named Eichmann, which Tallis had to do on purpose; the most violent cadet is named Wolf. There are clues galore, from hypnotism, from dream interpretation, from basic common sense and noticing when people very obviously lie. There's an unhappy beautiful woman, a rather psychotic master addicted to cocaine--which Freud says is definitely not used for headaches--and there's other assorted malcontents suffering around.
Depending on your tolerance for the weird and arcane, there's also a hillbilly mountain man who scavenges and lurks around. (He's responsible for an out-of-left-field circumstance at the end.) There's a witch he sells stolen things to. There's a beautiful gypsy who isn't who she seems. And, is Ms. Lydgate stepping out on the good doctor? (Why not? The good doctor steps out on her!) And there's a really, really catchy song by Schubert (based on a poem by Goethe) that you must YouTube. This is so necessary, in fact, that I'll do it for you.
Go to that link. I'm tellin' you. It'll stay with you.
It's sort of Rheinhardt's running thematic element, but not Leibermann's. This struck such a chord with me that I'm stealing it for one of my great many WIPs. Apparently this is a famous little ditty, and Schubert apparently wrote over 600 of these things, somehow, though he died at age 31. I Wikipedia-ed Schubert, as you should, too. I mean, the guy was productive, and famous, and apparently not a complete jerk. He did probably die of syphilis--he had mercury poisoning, too; mercury was used a lot to treat syphilis at the time--but, then, so many of the famous of 1900 or so died of that. Including Neitzsche, by the way, who also plays a small role in this book. His teachings of the Ubermensch (literally, Superman, but not the reporter with the cape) get misunderstood again!
Anyway, I digress. (Big-time.) Though a couple of books in this series purposely closed the main plotline before the novel's end, this one closed it a long time before the end, about 85 pages. This sat less well with me, as it may with you, but it wasn't a complete breaker. The subplots, including the bit with the gypsy and the mystery surrounding Ms. Lydgate's mysterious man, plus tying up a few loose ends at the military school, take up those 85 pages. You may be most interested in whether a cadet will get caught for the murder of another cadet, as I did. Don't. You'll be disappointed. More than anything else, the tying up of that loose end, with the aloof woodsman and the body of that cadet--that's something I wish Tallis had handled differently.
Overall the book is worth your time. Not one of my favorites from the series--that's Vienna Twilight--but it's still a lot better than most of the stuff in this genre. Another plus, as usual, is that you'll want to YouTube stuff to listen to, and Wikipedia stuff to learn about, and by now that kind of thing goes with these books as much as Leibermann and Rheinhardt do. For me, anyway.