A Matter of Breeding

Written by J. Sydney Jones
Review by Erin Davies

The fifth installment of Jones’ Viennese Mystery series finds Karl Werthen and Dr. Hans Gross puzzling over a peculiar succession of ritualistic murders in the close-knit village of Graz. In her husband’s absence, Berthe Werthen has stumbled onto a mystery of her own, a conspiracy that threatens to destroy one of Austria’s most recognized treasures: the world-renowned Lipizzaners of the famed Spanish Riding School. Following a complex series of leads, the Werthens soon discover themselves in a high-stakes web of violence, scandal and corruption.

A brilliantly atmospheric novel, A Matter of Breeding paints a remarkable portrait of Vienna at the dawn of the 20th century. The city literally comes to life in a radiantly authentic display of pageantry and prejudice, effectively drawing the reader into a bygone age. Cameo appearances by Archduke Franz Ferdinand, artist Tina Blau, and author Bram Stoker deepen the illusion and bring genuine flair to the narrative.

The mystery itself is elaborate and thought-provoking, and though I felt it somewhat overwhelming, I honestly appreciate the underlying themes of Jones’ intrigue. The characterizations are rather thin, suggesting it best to read the books chronologically, but all told I found A Matter of Breeding both enjoyable and entertaining.