Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review & Giveaway for: A Place to Die by Dorothy James

ISBN (Hardcover): 978-1-4500-8270-9
ISBN (Softcover): 978-1-4500-8269-3
ISBN (E-Book): 978-1-4500-8271-6
Page Count: 436
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
Copyright: 2010

About the Author:
(Taken from the back cover)

Dorothy James was born in Wales and grew up in the South Wales Valleys.  Writer, editor, translator, she has published short stories as well as books and articles on German and Austrian literature.  She has taught at universities in the U.S., England and Germany, makes her home now in Brooklyn and often spends time in Vienna and Berlin.  She wrote A Place to Die in her attic apartment on the edge of the Vienna Woods.  She has travelled far from Wales, but has not lost the Welsh love of playing with language; she writes poems for pleasure as does Chief Inspector Buchner, the whimsical Viennese detective who unravels the first mystery in this new series of novels.

(Taken from the back cover)

Eleanor and Franz Fabian arrive from New York to spend Christmas with Franz's mother in her sedate retirement home in the Vienna Woods.  Their expectations are low: at best, boredom, at worst, run-of-the-mill family friction.  But when the wealthy, charming Herr Graf is found dead in his apartment with an ugly head wound, the Fabians are thrust into a homicide investigation.  Some residents and staff have surprising connections to the dead man, but who would have wanted to kill him?  Inspector Buchner tracks down the murderer against a backdrop of Viennese history from the Nazi years to the present day.  Witty, suspenseful, lyrical, this is a literary whodunit that will keep you guessing till the last page.

My Review:

I've always loved murder mysteries and whodunits, but I've never read one that was set in Austria.  This was a wonderful, witty and nostalgic journey through the every day lives of the residents and staff at the Haus im Wald (House in the Woods).

The Haus im Wald is a place for the elderly.  It is divided into two residence sections: Those that can still care for themselves and those who cannot.  This is the setting of the murder and where Chief Inspector Georg Buchner sets up his residence during the investigation.  The staff, and even some of the residents, at the Haus im Wald are not who they appear to be.  There are secrets, love affairs and jealousy happening at the Haus im Wald.  Everybody is a suspect and nobody commits to divulging the entire truth to the Inspector.

All of the characters in this novel were well-rounded and had a depth to them.  You really got to know who they were and why they were the way they were.  Normally, authors only go into depth with just one or two characters in a novel and leave the remainder as "filler" characters.  Not Dorothy.  She expertly weaved each character's past into this story so you got to know each and every one.

I did not care for Franz, Eleanor's husband, and was glad that their situation ended up they way it did (I would go into detail but do not want to spoil it for you).  Even though society would not consider me 'up in age' or elderly, I still related to Eleanor and her demeanor.  I often find myself in the types of situations and feelings that she had.

The use of language in the novel made me want to live in Austria or Vienna.  Everyone was so polite and respectful ... even if they were upset.  As a Senior Customer Service Rep, I do not like to experience rudeness and callousness in myself or others.  So, to read a book where everyone was respectful made me wish I could live in that world.  I do realize that, in real life, everyone may not act as the characters in the novel, but it still made me wishful.

There are many good things I could say about this novel, but do not wish to give away spoilers.  All that I will say is that if you love murder mysteries with a touch of nostalgia, humor, wit and sadness, then you need to buy a copy of Dorothy James' novel, A Place to Die.  It has become one of my favorites and I cannot wait until the second book in this series is published.

You can go here to visit the Vienna Mysteries website.

Giveaway Info:

This Giveaway ended November 16, 2010.


  1. Hey, great review. I twitted it my followr (@manoflabook).

  2. I have this book for review also. I'll be interested to see how we compare. I love murder mysteries too! Can't wait to get to it:)

  3. I am currently reading this book. Hope to have it finished and a review posted by the end of the week.


  4. This sounds a really fun book. Thanks for the introduction.

  5. I'm a follower...and would love to Win!

  6. I like the storyline, sounds good.


If you are using, you can simply drop the html below in a widget in the footer or at the bottom of the sidebar.