cover image The Quiet Twin

The Quiet Twin

Dan Vyleta. Bloomsbury, $16 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-60819-808-5

Set in Vienna during the first weeks of WWII, Vyleta’s captivating detective story, told from multiple perspectives, examines the paranoia and mistrust of neighbors during the height of Hitler’s regime. Neighborhood physician Dr. Anton Beer, a specialist in nervous disorders and forensics, is asked by his colleague, Dr. Speckstein, to investigate the death and disembowelment of his beloved pet dog. As the mystery of the slain dog deepens, it becomes apparent that the animal’s death may be tied to a serial killer in the city, or perhaps something even more sinister. Also central to the plot are Zuzka, Speckstein’s hypochondriac niece, who becomes fascinated with a mime living across the courtyard, and Anneliese Grotter, a hunchbacked seven-year-old with an alcoholic father. Anton and the two girls are on the verge of unraveling the mystery when Det. Franz Teuben, a zealous Nazi, begins to investigate the killings. Vyleta (Pavel & I) 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. (Feb.)