Thursday, September 8, 2016

Death and the Maiden -- A Very, Very Short Review

Photo: From the book's Goodreads page. Not my exact edition, but this one has the same number of pages, and the one on Goodreads that looked like mine had more pages. Weird. And I didn't want my stats to show that I've read more pages than I actually have. I take my Goodreads stats very seriously!

Very satisfying 6th--and perhaps final--Max Liebermann mystery, written by Frank Tallis. Published in 2012, and followed by okay horror novels in the last few years, all published as F.R. Tallis, for some reason, this is perhaps Liebermann's last go. If so, it's a shame, as this series is clearly Tallis's best writing, and is what he's known for--if he's known in the U.S. at all; he's more popular, I think, in Europe. At any rate, he said in an interview that he was worried of his characters and plots becoming stale, and that he'd become tired of the series. So be it, I suppose.

This one has all of the good stuff you expect in this series: the locales, the detail of 1903 Vienna; Freud; a beautiful woman murdered (though let the record show that literally every woman worthy of mention in the series has been beautiful, especially the murdered ones); Amelia, who has been underwritten and under-represented; and of course Rheinhardt. The extra touch of this one is the appearance of Gustav Mahler, famous composer and conductor, often referenced in the series but never seen. We see Clara again, too; I have begun to feel quite badly for her now. Not a bad person, and probably deservant of more happiness than she's allowed. Her reason for wanting to be with Liebermann again was a little depressing, as was the reason for her final departure. She'll end up with that soldier, and she'll never be wanting, but you get the feeling she'll never be happy, either.

The book ends on a note that rings true, though not one that will give closure to every reader. Like the characters, you have to sometimes shrug your shoulders in life and accept the path that lays before you. Stray from that path at your peril--or, at the peril of your family. See: No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy. The movie lives up to the grueling realism of the book. Overall a very good book, but hopefully not the end to the series. Again, we'll have to shrug and move on if that's the case, but let's hope it's not.

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