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Books 63-64: Deadly Communion and Ratcatcher

Book 63: Deadly Communion (Liebermann Files 05) .
Author: Frank Tallis, 2010.
Genre: Historical Fiction. Mystery. Psychology. Early 20th century Vienna.
Other Details: Trade Paperback, 344 pages.

In this fifth outing for Dr. Max Liebermann, a sexual predator is at large on the streets of Vienna. Called in to assist the police by Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt, Liebermann finds clear signs that the killer is no ordinary 'lust murderer' but something darker that reflects the twin preoccupations of the age: sex and death. Aside from assisting in this case Liebermann is also treating a man who is convinced that he has seen his doppelgänger and that this is a herald that he is to die soon. Througout the novel Liebermann uses dreams and a link to fairy tales to unearth the unconscious motivations of various characters.

The novel gives Tallis the chance to explore a number of Freud's key theories including dream interpretation, the Oedipus complex and the link between Eros and Thanatos. As usual, the psychoanalytical bits are written with precision reflecting the author's profession and his knowledge of Freudian theory and history. He never over-uses Freud as a character but keeps him very much in the mentor role. It is quite a dark novel with issues such as paedophilia being raised.

As always Tallis does a brilliant job of establishing historical Vienna and ensuring that details reflect historical events and places such as the innovative sets for an opera and the reform fashion movement that called for women to throw away their corsets. This was, as always, an intelligent and engaging read with many mouth-watering descriptions of the Viennese pastries that Liebermann and Rheinhardt encounter in the various cafés they frequent. I always feel a little sad when one of Tallis' novels comes to an end though remain pleased that he is continuing the series.

Book 64: Ratcatcher (Matthew Hawkwood 01) .
Author: James McGee, 2006.
Genre: Historical Fiction. Regency England. Thriller.
Other Details: Hardback. 410 pages.

Another historical series, this one set in England during the Napoleonic Wars . Matthew Hawkwood, former solider and Bow Street Runner, is assigned to investigate the murder of a naval courier in what initially appears to be a case of highway robbery. It soon is revealed the this murder links to a far larger conspiracy that threatens the security of the entire nation.

I found this a very enjoyable read with an engaging protagonist, a number of colourful supporting characters and an exciting story that moves at a cracking pace. It is very clear that McGee has a strong grasp of the history and culture of the period and the skill to weave this into a gripping story. I'll be on the lookout for more of the adventures of Hawkwood.
Tags: historical fiction, murder mystery, psychiatry, thriller
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