Title: Vienna in Violet
Author: David W. Frank
Published: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Blank Slate Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Franz Schubert is convinced by his friend, Michael Vogl, to compose a commissioned work setting a poem to music. While Schubert isn’t normally one to take on such a task–especially with the finishing touches on his opera needing his attention–Vogl is able to prevail. The song will be unveiled at an event hosted by Michael’s dear friend, the Countess Eugénie von Neulinger. Schubert’s patron seems to receive the song very well, judging by her initial reaction, though Vogl soon learns there may be more to her reaction. And when dawn finds the countess murdered in her sleep, it may well be that there is far more to this simple song than either of the performers could have ever expected.
This is a work of fiction, but it read to me like it could be an account of something that actually happened. I must confess that I am a Schubert fan–he wrote so many great songs for tenors to sing!–and that’s what initially drew me to this book. I always find myself enjoying speculation of what life may have been like for composers of the time (yes, I know we have some historical records, but it’s those day-to-day glimpses I enjoy), and what sort of intriguing stories could potentially have inspired some of the works that they left behind. I’m also a fan of a good murder mystery, so there were many appealing facets of this book.
And this is definitely a well-written work. The pacing is great, the dialogue seems authentic, and the reveal is great–I hadn’t really pinned down the culprit by the end of the book (something I always think is the mark of a good mystery). Historical fiction can be tough when you include people who actually lived during the time, but I think the author treats those characters with great sensitivity while rounding them out with a dynamic cast of characters.[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]