Thursday, May 16, 2013

J. Sydney Jones

J. Sydney Jones's 2009 novel The Empty Mirror introduced Karl Werthen, a well-off Viennese lawyer and aspiring author who, with real-life criminologist Doktor Hanns Gross, sought to prove that the painter Gustav Klimt was innocent in a series of gruesome local slayings. In the fourth and latest novel in the series, The Keeper of Hands, Werthen, Gross and Werthen’s resourceful spouse, Berthe Meisner, are mixed up in the seemingly disparate cases of a murdered teenage prostitute and an assaulted playwright.

From Jones's Q &A with J. Kingston Pierce for Kirkus Reviews:

I’m intrigued by your use of Hanns Gross, the so-called father of criminology, as a sidekick of sorts for Werthen. Have any of Gross’ descendents contacted you with comments or complaints about your use of their famous ancestor?

No descendants, but at readings there are usually one or two professional forensics folks who have come because of an interest in Gross. I really do enjoy writing Gross—his powers of deduction are quite phenomenal, but he is such a jerk. Quite oblivious to the feelings of others. He often serves as a comic foil, but his sad relationship with his son, Otto, is a recurring leitmotif of the books, as well. I am most anxious for the future installment when Gross has a post in Prague and teaches, among others, the young [Franz] Kafka. That will be a fun adventure.

The plots of your Viennese Mysteries start with a cultural luminary or two from the city’s past, be it Wittgenstein, Mahler or Vienna’s anti-Semitic mayor, Karl Lueger. The Keeper of Hands ropes authors Arthur Schnitzler and Bertha von Suttner into its story. Why were those two of particular interest to you?

I was not very kind to Schnitzler in this novel, I fear, focusing more on his womanizing than his art. But I am a great fan of his writing, especially the novel Das Weite Land (translated as The Undiscovered Country). I remember watching a BBC adaptation of his Anatol plays just before departing for Vienna as a student, and they obviously informed—at the very least—my expectations of the city. Schnitzler was at the center of the literary Vienna of the time, and...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at J. Sydney Jones' website and blog.

Read "The Story Behind the Story: The Silence,” at The Rap Sheet.

The Page 69 Test: The Empty Mirror.

The Page 69 Test: Requiem in Vienna.

The Page 69 Test: The Silence.

--Marshal Zeringue