Vienna, 1939. Professor Speckstein's dog has been brutally killed, the latest victim in a string of unsolved murders. Speckstein wants answers - but these are uncharitable times, and one must be careful where one probes...
When an unexpected house call leads Dr. Beer to Speckstein's apartment, he finds himself in the bedroom of Zuzka, the professor's niece. Wide-eyed, flirtatious, and not detectably ill, Zuzka leads the young doctor to her window and opens up a view of their apartment block that Beer has never known. Across the shared courtyard, there is nine-year-old Anneliese, the lonely daughter of an alcoholic. Five windows to the left lives a secretive mime who comes home late at night and keeps something - or someone - precious hidden from view. From the garret drifts the mournful sound of a trumpet player, and a basement door swings closed behind the building's inscrutable janitor.
Does one of these enigmatic neighbors have blood on their hands?
Dr. Beer, who has his own reasons for keeping his private life hidden from public scrutiny, reluctantly becomes embroiled in an inquiry that forces him to face the dark realities of Nazi rule. By turns chilling and tender, The Quiet Twin explores a dystopian world of social paranoia, mistrust, and fear - and the danger of staying silent.
Although ostensibly a murder mystery, the deaths in The Quiet Twin pale in comparison to the intrigue created by Vyleta's characters, all struggling for survival under the threat of Nazi persecution, all with something to hide. (Reviewed by Mark James).
Vyleta carefully provides political and historical context, resulting in a plot that takes a while to get going. However, when the pace picks up, readers will appreciate the novel’s well-crafted pathos, dark humor, and chills.
Working primarily through mood, atmospherics, and the general air of malevolence with which he surrounds the action, Vyleta memorably conjures up the darkness both of the times and of the Nazi mind.
Vyleta knows how to create an oppressive atmosphere without making the prose feel bogged down, and the novel's closing chapters pick up energy, revealing the evil of the Nazis and the ability of a few committed people to push back against it. An evocative if largely grey-toned portrait of life in a new police state.
Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals and People with Disabilities During WWII
In 1938, the Nazis annexed Austria in what is known as the Anschluss, the "link-up" or "union". In their pursuit of a "pure" Aryan master race, they immediately began arresting anyone of difference or who might oppose them, especially Jews. According to the Vienna City Administration website, Nazi-incited pogroms in November 1938 essentially obliterated Jewish culture in Vienna.
When Dan Vyleta's The Quiet Twin begins, most of Vienna's Jews had already been deported or had fled. In one scene, he leads the reader through an abandoned house; the Jewish owners had "left... gone since winter." The edifice is an apocalyptic urbanscape with "broken windows and shattered light bulbs, angry slogans scrawled across the floor." The main character, Dr. Beer, remembers that the neighbors were the "same people who had witnessed the windows being smashed and the symbols being daubed, and done nothing about it. People like him." The vandalism and fire leave their mark on the vacant building, and the epiphany of his complicity leaves its mark on his...
Research shows that 90% of Americans value public libraries(Dec 11 2013) According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, about 90% of Americans aged 16 and older said that the closing of their local public library would have an...