Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Book 42: A Death in Vienna

A Death in Vienna by Frank Tallis

I probably shouldn't buy books based on their setting anymore. Once again, the title attracted my attention because, "hey, I've been there." The description of the book also sounded interesting - murder mystery with psychology. However, and this isn't even the author's fault, the back flap was a bit deceiving: "As a team, they must use both hard evidence and intuitive analysis to solve a medium's mysterious murder . . ." Except for the most part, it isn't really much of a team effort in my opinion. Basically, it's Lieberman, the psychologist, acting incredibly superior and smarter than everyone else. Not that he solves the crime very quickly. And that's when I remembered that while I find Freud's theories interesting, especially when used to analyze literature, actually reading Freud pisses me off. His methods are fucked up (you can't base a theory on nine case studies!), he's sexist (penis envy, anyone?), and has too high an opinion of himself (because, you know, all his patients fall in love with him) and Lieberman obviously gets his superiority complex from him.

Lieberman also takes a rather condescending view towards his fiance in the novel because she's too shallow in his opinion. He seems to see her as more a of a cute plaything to brighten his mood, and as the novel progresses he starts to have doubts about their engagement. That's really the only place I felt any sympathy for him. Everything else about him and even his cop friend just rubbed me the wrong way, especially their hour long music sing alongs and concerts - too pretentious.

As far as the murder mystery is concerned, it wasn't really that intriguing. Murdered woman in a room locked from the inside - possibly could have been interesting, but I never became invested enough in any of the characters to care one way or the other. Also, it seemed like every other chapter was supposed to be a red herring - ooh, maybe he did it. Or him. Plus, the solution seemed pretty simple. Granted the novel was set in a pre-CSI time, but it was written during it, so as an author, you need to come up with something a little more complicated if you don't expect everyone to figure out the method of the murder if not the murderer early on in the novel.

One cool thing was when they mentioned the confectionary Demel, because I've had coffee and cake there; in fact, I brought my parents cake from there when I went on leave (also, that picture from yesterday is from there). There are apparently sequels to this novel, and the only thing I would possibly be interested in knowing is the progression of Lieberman and his fiance Clara's relationship because I'd rather not see him bore me through another murder case.

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