Dr. Max Liebermann is a music loving psychiatrist, a dicipline of Dr. Sigmund Freud, in Vienna, the capital of the Habsburg Empire. The year is 1902. When a young female medium is mysteriously murdered, detective inspector Rheinhardt asks his good friend Liebermann for help.
Mortal Mischief was a delightful read! Yes, delightful, despite of it being a murder mystery. Even though interesting, the actual mystery part of the story was almost secondary to me. What I enjoyed most was the description of Max Liebermann's professional struggles, his clever use of deduction when solving both psycholocigal problems of his patients and the details of the murder mystery, and the snippets about his personal life, some of which will no doubt be developed further in the dollowing parts of the series. That being said, also the mystery was a very clever one, so simple, but clever.
I am very glad I finally read this mystery. Tallis is able to bring turn of the century Vienna alive in this book. As I've been lucky enough to visit Vienna twice I was able to see in my mind some of the places mentioned. This little paragraph, where the Karlzplats station pavilions are mentioned, made me chuckle:
"Eventually she found herself standing by one of the new station entrances on Karlsplatz. Her husband had said that they were a disgrace and that the architect should be shot. Beatrice had agreed, but looking at them now she could not understand why some people found them so offensive. The green wrought-iron framework of the two pavilions reminded her of a conservatory."[p. 408]The architect was Otto Wagner. The pavilions had been built in 1898 and they are two of the most beautiful examples of Wagner's work. Today one of the two pavilions, the west pavilion, houses a permanent exhibition of Otto Wagner's life and work. Learn more about the pavilions and Wagner here. The paragraph I quoted made me smile, because I simply love Jugend/Art Noveau architecture and while in Vienna Karlsplatz pavilions were one stop on my Jugendstil architecture pilgrimage! :) I don't think anyone today could think the pavilions as a disgrace!
Sorry, I digressed from the book to Viennese architecture... :) All in all, Mortal Mischief was an easy and enjoyable read, and I will most definitely read the other parts of the series, too. My only critisism is that there were perhaps too many café scenes it the book. Cafés are very special in Vienna, but still. And all those tarts and cakes mentioned! They would make even a stronger person give in to temptation, not to mention someone like me with more than one sweet tooth! ;)
The other volumes of the Liebermann Papers series (this far) are: