Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Time of Murder at Mayerling by Ann Dukthas

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 
Obtained from: Local Library 
Read: August 30, 2012 

Vienna, 1889. Glittering entertainments hide a world of sinister political intrigue at the court of the Hapsburgs. The world exploded with the horrifying news that the heir to the throne, handsome Archduke Rudolph, had shot his seventeen-year-old aristocratic mistress, Maria Vetsera, to death and then turned the gun on himself at the imperial hunting lodge at Mayerling. Or did he? Rumors of foul play soon began to surface as Vetsera's body was hurriedly buried in secrecy and the government suppressed any inquiry. Scholar Nicholas Segalla risks his own life to uncover the truth behind a spectacular cover-up and attempts to expose a murderer with a very intimate and surprising connection to the doomed prince.

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*** NOTE: Ann Dukthas is a pseudonym used by Paul Doherty.

Crown Prince Rudolph
I confess, this is not my first go round with The Time of Murder at Mayerling. I stumbled over it by accident in my youth and was so enthralled with the material that I've never forgotten it. Passing years have not dulled my interest, if anything they’ve enhanced it, which is how I found myself revisiting this old favorite.

The Time of Murder at Mayerling is the third installment of the Nicholas Segalla Time Travel Mystery series. It isn’t necessary to read them in order so long as once understands that Nicholas Segalla is immortal. He fashioned himself as the ultimate gentlemen's gentleman and was well-known in several royal courts throughout history. He’s gone to great lengths to hide his identity, but in the 1990s, Segalla befriended author Ann Dukthas and took to sharing the truth behind his adventures. The result is a delightful series of historicals that introduce young readers to some of the best-known intrigues of the past. 

I love the idea behind this series and think Dukthas' explanation regarding the deaths of the Crown Prince and Baroness Vetsera quite fun. My only disappointment is that there is no author’s note to explain the fiction or direct those interested in the research that went into the narrative’s construction. At twelve I didn't even notice the omission. I was, quite frankly, too caught up in the plot to give a damn where the history came from, but as an adult, it’s close to torture. 

Extensive independent study has given me rather strong views on Rudolph and Mary and while I don’t personally subscribe to the theories Dukthas used to create The Time of Murder at Mayerling, I can’t deny it captures the imagination. The manipulation of fact is brilliantly entertaining and leaves a remarkable impression on readers both young and old. 

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"The truth is far worse than any of the versions."
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