The Silence (Viennese Mysteries)

Written by J. Sydney Jones
Review by Phyllis T. Smith

In this excellent mystery set in Vienna in 1900, Werthen, a lawyer, is hired by a wealthy family to find a son who has disappeared. Werthen is told by a friend of the young man that he is safe and has gone abroad. But then the informant dies and the circumstances are such that Werthen may be accused of the murder. Or was it murder? By threatening to expose his homosexuality in order to induce him to talk, Werthen may have precipitated the dead man’s suicide. Not devoid of conscience, Werthen wishes to prove to himself as well as to others that he had no role in the death. So he begins investigating and enters a complex and dangerous labyrinth.

Vienna provides an atmospheric backdrop for this story. It is a city in which sophistication and high culture coexist with virulent anti-Semitism, a city of great wealth in which the poor make their homes underground in the sewers. With artful writing, the author has brought this time and place to life. He has also created a vivid cast of characters and devised a plot that never lags. I was engrossed by this novel and highly recommend it.