What’s in a song? Murder and mayhem, that’s what.
David W. Frank presents Vienna in Violet, a literary, historical musical murder mystery set in 19th Century Austria.
Vienna in Violet takes place in a city rife with intrigue—economic, romantic and, above all, musical. As the city prepares for epic battle over Carl von Weber’s controversial German opera, Der Freischütz, modest but talented songwriter Franz Schubert innocently answers a sudden commission. He sets to music a poem written by the notorious Countess Eugénie von Neulinger and performs it the next night at the countess’ soirée, accompanying his real-life long-term partner in song, Johann Michael Vogl, the novel’s protagonist and primary voice. Within hours of the performance, Eugénie is murdered. There follows an investigation including Vogl and Schubert among the many suspects.
Matters get complicated. The police ruthlessly pursue their inquiries, employing, among others, the unstable detective Gert Timmerich, to keep track of Schubert. Unaware of any danger, even after his rooms are ransacked, Schubert pursues a plot of his own to introduce his opera Alfonso and Estrella to Weber. Convinced that Schubert’s the murderer, Timmerich plans to kill him. Before he can do so, Timmerich himself is murdered.
The list of suspects, including some of Eugenie’s former lovers, dwindles, until none other than Vogl and Schubert remain under suspicion. Both murderer and motive remain obscure until, Vogl realizes just in time that Schubert’s song is the key to the whole business. He puts enough pieces together to stop the killer in his tracks and save his friend’s life as well as his own.
Vienna in Violet is a clever murder mystery wrapped in a fascinating historical fiction. The author’s recreation of 1822 Vienna is completely believable, and the characters – both the real ones like composer Franz Schubert and the fictional ones like the beautiful Countess Eugenie – are well written and captivating. I couldn’t put it down.