Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday is for Series

Wrapping up the Liebermann Papers

I've read the final book (so far) in this series, having just finished Vienna Secrets (review to follow). I think that the UK title for this book, Darkness Rising, is so much more appropriate, because the story has now moved towards the beginnings of more tightly-organized anti-Semitism in that city.  What's really good about this series is that Tallis enables his readers throughout all four books to see what kind of cultural and political forces led to the evolution of powerful anti-Semitic thought. The pieces were all in place for the worst that's yet to happen.  The mystery aspects of these novels were almost secondary as Tallis sets the stage.

Speaking of the mystery components, the crimes have varied, but Max Liebermann and Oskar Rheinhardt (the main characters) have always come through.  The crimes ranged from a locked-room whodunit in the case of a murdered spiritualist (Mortal Mischief), to the death of an anaconda at the zoo and a rapid series of murders that follow (Vienna Blood), to a bizarre series of deaths that center around a boys' school (Fatal Lies -- my favorite) and finally (in Vienna Secrets), to a set of very strange and baffling decapitations. Liebermann consults with Rheinhardt and through his understanding of Freudian psychology, is able to help the police in some of the strangest crimes that Vienna has ever experienced.

As I read the series, I have to say that sometimes I went into brain overload with the tons of period details thrown in by the author. To be really blunt, I got really tired of reading about what these people ate in the coffeehouses, what their clothes looked like, what music they were listening to and playing.  It's fine when an author gives you a little of this stuff, but sometimes I found myself skimming just to get back to the topic at hand.  However, some people like the minutiae of life so if that's your thing, you're going to love these books. I'm more of a "let's get down to it" kind of reader, and so I got impatient.

There's even been a bit of romance throughout all four novels, so there's something for those mystery readers who like a little love interest with their crime.  I'm not one of them, but Liebermann has an ongoing love angle.  I won't get into that here, because it will spoil it for anyone who may wish to read these books, but thankfully (for me) it wasn't so overblown as to take over. As I said above, I just want to get to the point and let the main characters get to the crime solving.

Who would like these books? Well, definitely people who like light historical fiction, and definitely people who enjoy period mystery novels.  These are NOT cozy mystery novels, so if your interest lies there, you may not enjoy this series so much.  In general, these books all tie together very well and remain coherent throughout the series.

It's been fun reading the last three but now it's time to move on.  That leads me to my next topic, this lady, who is Jo Bannister.  She is the author of the Castlemere series, set in England, which features DS Frank Shapiro, DI Liz Graham and DS Cal Donovan.

I've already read the first three, which are
  1. The Bleeding of  Innocents
  2. Charisma
  3. A Taste for Burning
This leaves me to start at #4, which is  No Birds Sing.  I'll report back as I finish each one.

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