Sunday, May 17, 2015
The Beethoven House, by Albert Tucher
Mea culpa: It took me so long to get around to reading this book that I forgot how I received it. I should say it was a gift from the publisher.
Last year I noted in this space how cold war spy stories tend to center on Berlin. In the highlight, so far, of this collection of historical mysteries, Mr. Tucher moves southeast to another hotbed of espionage: the capital of neutral Austria.
It is 1955, three years after Vienna ceased to be a divided city. Benjamin is a CIA agent and a local cop calls to inform him that one of his contacts has been found murdered. Apparently Wolfi Stendl had acquired two tickets to the hottest show in town - the grand reopening of the Opera, after many years of reconstruction after the war. Why did someone want those seats enough to kill for them?
There are wheels within wheels here, betrayals of betrayals, which as Benjamin notes, is the Viennese way. An entertaining story of the bad old days.