Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Master of the Day of Judgment
























From the jacket of The Master of the Day of Judgment -

When the idolised actor Eugen Bischoff is found shot dead in a garden pavilion in Vienna one September evening of 1909, suspicion fastens at once on Baron von Yosch, a well-to-do army officer who has been the lover of the dead man's wife Dina. While Dina's brother prepares to expose the baron to public humiliation and drive him to suicide , two of Bischoff's friends are willing to accept von Yosch's word that he is innocent and that the actor took his own life. The three of them piece together the scanty clues and in the course of a couple of days painstakingly establish what occurred during the actor's last hours, and how this relates to some recent unexplained suicides in his circle.

As in his other novels, so here too Leo Perutz skilfully orchestrates an atmosphere of deepening mystery suffused with terror as the shadowy nightmare figures in the actor's last days are gradually, at no little peril to the enquirers, brought to light.

This is the first novel by Leo Perutz, (1882-1957), that I've read, reading something like a cross between Sandor Marai's Embers and Arturo Perez-Reverte's The Club Dumas, the story gets darker as it proceeds dipping into near demonic levels after the discovery of a book at Herr Albachary's apartment which goes onto unlock the mystery of the narrative, to an extent. Also during their investigations Dr Gorski, the Russian engineer, (Solgrub) and the Baron discover the existence of a hallucinogenic drug which is capable of unlocking the mind. The story is narrated by Baron von Yosch and doesn't reveal whether he is the guilty party until the last few pages, the narrative ends with an Editor's Postscript explaining further the biography of the Baron, the prose is taught with suspense. Translated from the German by Eric Mosbacher, the book I think is out of print, but this edition was published by Harvill/Harpercollins back in 1994 who also published many other works by Perutz including - The Marquis of Bolibar, By Night Under the Stone Bridge, (stories), Little Apple, Leonardo's Judas, Turlupin and The Swedish CavalierThe Master of the Day of Judgment was originally published in Austria in 1921 with the title Der Meister des Jungsten Tages.

Ariadne Press publish Perutz's first novel Between Nine and Nine.

A page of interest at the Weird Review

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