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by J. Sydney Jones
Severn House, December 2011
240 pages
ISBN: 0727880845

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The third in a series of Viennese Mysteries, THE SILENCE, continues the string of J Sydney Jones's delightful historical tales set at the turn of the 20th century. With this book, Jones weaves a tale of two men, each an apparent suicide (or so the Viennese powers-that-be would have its citizens believe). The tale begins when prominent lawyer Advokat Karl Werthen (who takes on investigations with the utmost discretion) is contacted by a prominent business tycoon to locate his missing son.

The son is soon determined to have left the country for the New World according to an old school friend, who is now a freelance journalist. Meanwhile at Vienna's City Hall, shock over the suicide of a local councilman is reverberating throughout its halls. When the journalist is later found dead and determined to have committed suicide as well, Werthen (along with his good friend, innovative criminologist Hanns Gross) starts to get to the heart of the mystery.

The intertwining of the two men's lives (and deaths) are centered on rumors that the journalist was looking into at the time. Those rumors centered on a scandal that combined the elements of unsavory business and political dealings. Indeed, after Werthen and Gross take up the journalist's trail, they learn that the mayor has a secret agenda, that ruthless millionaires are seeking to profit at the expense of the Viennese citizenry (while destroying a local treasure), and that anyone who comes close to the story is placing himself (and his family) in grave danger.

Like the other Viennese Mysteries, author J Sydney Jones has brought together the elements that have worked so well in his first two mysteries: great historical information (including period details on features such as clothing, food, architecture, cultural events, and more); a charming domestic scene with likeable characters (expanded to include disagreeable in-laws, a new baby, and new office assistant); and a good mystery to tie it all together.

Unlike the first two books of the series, however, THE SILENCE seems to have a dark undercurrent of anti-Semitism running beneath the storyline, foreshadowing the historic events to come. This in no way detracts from the story, but instead adds a brooding, somber tone. In every other way, the book is the equal of the first two in the series, and readers who are taken with Advokat Werthen and his extended coterie of friends, family, and colleagues will be anxiously awaiting the next installment to see just where author J Sydney Jones will lead them next.

Christine Zibas is a freelance writer and former director of publications for a Chicago nonprofit.

Reviewed by Christine Zibas, April 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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