The Quiet Twin
Set in an apartment block in Vienna at the beginning of World War II, this is a story of murder and mayhem, people with mysterious illnesses and neighbours spying on each other with the general fear and suspicion thus engendered. Professor Speckstein persuades Dr. Anton Beer, a medic who holds general surgeries in his apartment, to look into several local murders, including the brutal killing of his own dog. One of Dr. Beer’s patients is Zuzka, who lives with her uncle and from her apartment looks into the neighbours’ windows. How will it all end?
The characters are all social misfits – a mime-artist and his paralysed twin-sister, a humpbacked girl with a drunken father; even Professor Speckstein has something to hide. Add to this the rest of the motley characters and the ever-encroaching rise of the Nazis and you have a dark story indeed.
It is the sort of book which might go down well with a reading group as there is much to discuss. For instance, who is the quiet twin of the title? The reader seems to be left to work this out for himself, but I tend to think it was Austria, gradually being drawn into Hitler’s regime and quietly going along with his ideas of the perfect ‘Aryan’ race and world domination.
I read this book but have to confess that I did not enjoy it.