THE KEEPER OF HANDS by J. Sydney Jones


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Police indifference and the surprising history of the victim entice a Vienna lawyer in his attempt to solve a murder.

In turn-of-the-century Vienna, Advokat Karl Werthen gets a visit from theater critic Felix Salten, in the days before he wrote Bambi, with an unusual request. Acting as the intermediary for Frau Josephine Mutzenbacher, a successful madam whose memoirs he's penning, Salten asks Werthen to investigate the strangulation of Mitzi, a young prostitute who played the role of a young virgin at the brothel. The lawyer accepts the challenge, but because of the reluctance of everyone involved to speak openly and the need for discretion, his investigation proceeds slowly. Mitzi's past is a well-guarded secret, and Werthen gets little traction until he tracks down her parents, Herr and Frau Moos, who at first deny that they even know her. Between interviews, Werthen shares judiciously edited accounts of his work with his wife, Berthe, who's recently given him a beautiful daughter, Frieda. Even with so much to treasure at home, Werthen readily accepts another interesting assignment at the request of his former mentor, the criminologist Doktor Gross. Shortly after Werthen interviews Arthur Schnitzler in connection with Mitzi's killing, someone brutally attacks the physician and controversial playwright. Though Schnitzler assumes the attack was prompted by his most recent play, Werthen's not so sure. Just when he feels he's making headway, Frau Mutzenbacher wants to terminate the investigation. What next?

In Werthen's fourth case (The Silence, 2011, etc.), Jones recreates the beau monde of vintage Vienna with verisimilitude and consummate style.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8269-1
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Severn House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2013


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