Sunday, January 17, 2010

J. Sydney Jones and His Excellent Books.

Because Thriller Guy owes his soul to no particular devil, he feels free to use his awsome position of power to give a push whenever possible to the novels of his personal friends. As a novelist himself, TG has found a community with other writers who always seem willing to help one another. Writing can be, as TG has said many times, painful. It's nice to have backup in times of trouble. God, this is getting a bit thick, so let's move it along.

J. Sydney Jones is a terrific writer who has just published the second in a mystery series set in Vienna, circa 1898. It stars lawyer Karl Werthen who works in a semi Holmes/Watson manner with real life pioneering criminologist Hanns Gross.

In the first of the series, The Empty Mirror, Werthen's friend Gustav Klimt is accused of committing a series of bizarre murders. The resulting investigation by Werthen and Gross takes the sleuths and readers through a fascinating tour of Vienna and its citizenry, from the depths of the lower classes to the Emperor and Empress themselves. Patrick Anderson in the Washington Post wrote a long and glowing review that gives details. Jones throws in tons of interesting factoids, such as this piece of art history: Klimt painted his portraits of society women first in the nude, so he could “see into their soul” (yeah, right) and then he would paint the clothes onto the portraits. Who knew? Other famous historical figures are either part of the plot – sexologist Krafft-Ebing – or make cameos -- Mark Twain – but none of this ever seems forced or irrelevant, something TG always keeps a sharp eye out for in a historical mystery, because TG, also a historical novelist, hates it when authors do this.

In Jones' latest, number two in the series, Requiem In Vienna, someone is out to kill Gustav Mahler. Alma Schindler, who later became Mahler's wife, hires Werthen to find the killer and stop him before Mahler joins a growing list of musicians who have been murdered. Again, the amount of fabulous information on the period, the place, and the long list of fascinating characters makes this a series that is the equal of anyone working the historical thriller venue today.

And as readers of these pages know, TG does not toss around praise like this lightly. And Syd, to show his appreciation for this plug, has sent TG a copy of the first and the second of the books to give away to the first folks who send TG an email to his alter ego, Allen Appel.

And here's another tip. Bhob Stewart, in his blog, Potzrebie, has a long and interesting piece on William Heirens, who in 1946 was arrested as The Lipstick Killer, the guy who killed good-looking dames and wrote in lipstick on the mirror, “Stop me before I kill more.” This case has been the subject of a number of books, movies and comics, but TG thinks a new angle on this case would be Thriller Gold. Heirens is actually still alive in Illinois, the longest serving inmate in the United States. And he still says he's innocent.
Check it out.  

Update: The two free Jones novels were snapped up right away. They are still available at a quality bookstore near you.


  1. Sad to hear that Robert Parker passed away suddenly today. I really enjoyed his books.

  2. Read it again. The point of the article is that Heirens never wrote anything in lipstick and that comments like yours have perpetuated that myth and kept Heirens in prison.

  3. TG understands the point of the article. Read the blog again and you will notice that TG didn't say he did the crime, just that he was arrested for the crime as the Lipstick Killer. And that a new take on the crime, meaning someone else did it, might be a good subject for a new thriller. Be that as it may, TG still thinks that Heirens did it.