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Authors: Frank Tallis

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Death and the Maiden

BOOK: Death and the Maiden
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About the Book
 

Vienna 1903. An operatic diva, Ida Rosenkrantz, is found dead in her luxurious villa. It appears that she has taken an overdose of morphine, but a broken rib, discovered during autopsy, suggests other and more sinister possibilities. Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt seeks the assistance of his young friend, the psychoanalyst Dr. Max Liebermann, and they begin their inquiries at Vienna’s majestic opera house, where its director, Gustav Mahler, is struggling to maintain a pure artistic vision while threatened on all sides by pompous bureaucrats, vainglorious singers, and a hostile press. When the demagogue Mayor of Vienna, Karl Lueger, become the prime suspect – with an election only months away – the Rosenkrantz case becomes politically explosive.

The trail leads Rheinhardt and Liebermann, via a social climbing professor of psychiatry, to the Hofburg palace and the mysterious Lord Marshal’s office – a shadowy bureau that deals ruthlessly with enemies of the ageing Emperor Franz Josef. As the investigation proceeds, the investigators are placed in great personal danger, as corruption is exposed at the very highest levels. Meanwhile, Liebermann pursues two private obsessions: a coded message in a piece of piano music, and the alluring Englishwoman, Miss Amelia Lydgate. Romance and high drama coincide as the Habsburg Empire teeters on the edge of scandal and ruin.

Also by Frank Tallis

 

LIEBERMANN PAPERS
Mortal Mischief
Vienna Blood
Fatal Lies
Darkness Rising
Deadly Communion

 

NOVELS
Killing Time
Sensing Others

 

NON FICTION
Love Sick: Love As a Mental Illness
Changing Minds
Hidden Spirits

 

Frank Tallis

 

This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

Version 1.0

Epub ISBN 9781409021704

www.randomhouse.co.uk

Published by Century 2011

2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1

Copyright © Frank Tallis 2011

Frank Tallis has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs
and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work

This novel is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition, including this condition, being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

First published in Great Britain in 2011 by
Century
Random House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road,
London SW1V 2SA

www.randomhouse.co.uk

Addresses for companies within The Random House Group Limited can be found at:
www.randomhouse.co.uk

The Random House Group Limited Reg. No. 954009

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 9781846053573

Contents
 

Cover

About the Book

Also by Frank Tallis

Title Page

Copyright

Exordium

Part One

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Part Two

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Part Three

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Part Four

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Acknowledgements and Sources

E
XORDIUM
 

T
HE LORD MARSHAL AND
the lord chamberlain, Prince Rudolf Liechtenstein, were observing Emperor Franz-Josef from the staircase. Their elevated vantage point afforded them a good view of the entire chamber. As usual, the monarch was dressed in a military uniform: dark blue trousers and a claret-coloured jacket with gold cuffs. He had three medals pinned high on his chest. He was standing erect, like a soldier on parade, stationed at the still centre of a slowly rotating spiral of humanity as various parties were presented to him. With every circuit, palace guests shuffled closer, drawn by the gravitational pull of his eminence. Each party was represented by a speaker who, when given a signal by Count Paar, would approach the emperor and make introductions. After a few words were exchanged, the group would move on, making way for the next.

Although there were a number of officers present – captains and colonels, proudly sporting their regimental colours – most of the men were civilians in sombre evening suits and white bow ties. The women who accompanied them were wearing ball gowns, some of which had been audaciously cut to expose the smooth whiteness of their backs. Lacy borders sank recklessly low, revealing the shapely convexities of the female form. A brunette sporting a corsage of jasmine and roses was making a graceful descent down the stairs. As she passed the two court officials she turned to smile at Prince Liechtenstein.

‘Your Highness.’

He inclined his head and became conscious of a sweet fragrance.

‘Who’s she?’ asked the lord marshal.

‘You don’t know her?’ exclaimed the prince, a note of disbelief entering his voice.

The woman joined a group of men at the foot of the stairs.

‘If I knew who she was I wouldn’t have asked,’ the lord marshal replied.

‘Arianne Amsel,’ said the prince. The lord marshal showed no sign of recognition and Liechtenstein was obliged to add: A soprano from the court opera. Have you never heard her sing? I don’t believe it.’

‘Do you really think I have time to go the opera?’ said the lord marshal.

‘She’s famous for her role as Senta in
The Flying Dutchman
and she was most impressive in
Euryanthe
last year. Be that as it may, she may not be with us for much longer. Not very happy: keeps on complaining about Director Mahler. I’ll introduce you.’

The lord marshal nodded and continued surveying the chamber.

On either side of the gilded double doors stood members of the Bosnian Guard. They were dressed in their distinctive garb: tunic, knickerbockers, ankle boots, tassled fez, and backpack. The lord marshal reflected that the backpack was no doubt essential for survival on the limestone slopes of the Dinaric Alps but surely somewhat redundant in the palace. More people were streaming in and joining the outer arm of the slowly moving spiral. The lord marshal returned his attention to the middle of the chamber.

‘Look who’s here.’

A bearded man in his late fifties, wearing a sash, was advancing towards the emperor.

‘They say that Mayor Lueger isn’t well,’ said Prince Liechtenstein, ‘but he looks healthy enough to me.’

‘Healthy enough to fight another election,’ said the lord marshal, before adding in a more subdued tone: ‘Worse luck.’

‘There’s a general feeling of discontent around, don’t you think?’ said the prince. ‘A feeling of dissatisfaction, a feeling that more could be done?’

‘Who have you been talking to?’ snapped the lord marshal.

The prince looked uncomfortable. ‘Surely you don’t object to a little enlightened discussion if it takes place among friends? You don’t need to impress upon me the importance of discretion.’

‘Look at him,’ the lord marshal complained, flicking a finger disdainfully at the mayor. ‘He thinks himself invincible.’

‘And if things continue as they are, he very well may be.’ Prince Liechtenstein shuddered theatrically. ‘If only someone would show some initiative.’ The two court officials stepped aside, permitting the
Hochmeister
of the Order of Teutonic Knights to pass. This venerable gentleman was wearing a white cape on which a large black and gold pattée cross had been embroidered. When the
Hochmeister
reached the bottom of the staircase the prince added, ‘One might let it be known – tactfully, of course – that men of action could depend on our support.’

BOOK: Death and the Maiden
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