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The Quiet Twin. Dan Vyleta by Dan Vyleta
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The Quiet Twin. Dan Vyleta (edition 2011)

by Dan Vyleta

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Member:suzebutch
Title:The Quiet Twin. Dan Vyleta
Authors:Dan Vyleta
Info:Bloomsbury UK (2011), Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:fiction, austria, vienna, WWII, 1939

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The Quiet Twin: A Novel by Dan Vyleta

** (1) 14 (1) 1049 (1) 1930s (2) 53 (1) 1939 (1) Austria (5) Canadian fiction (1) criminal investigation (1) Distrust (1) doctors (1) dread (1) ebook (1) fiction (7) Germany (1) historical fiction (4) literary fiction (1) mystery (3) Nazis (4) Nazism (2) novel (1) own (1) paranoia (1) police (1) read (1) Simenon (1) suspense (1) to-read (4) Vienna (4) WWII (3)
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Showing 5 of 5
Dan Vyleta is a genius of a story teller. The Quiet Twin is full of menacing, paranoid atmosphere and both tender and violent relationships. A sophisticated literary thriller, taking place in Vienna in 1939, at a time when the threat of Nazism hangs over every person and in every conversation and action.

A tale of compassion and violence in which nearly every well drawn character is hiding secrets.

A fabulous read! ( )
1 vote vancouverdeb | Nov 2, 2013 |
Dan Vyleta, with whom, in the interest of full disclosure I have crossed paths at a couple of literary festivals, is a writer of significance and elegance. Dan is the son of Czech refugees who emigrated to Germany in the late 1960s, although he now lives and teaches in the Great Lakes region of the US. His European background is a clear influence on this work, which takes place in Vienna, in the autumn of 1939 -- shortly after Austria's annexation by the Nazis.

The book blurb will tell you what you need to know of the plot, but allow me to say this is a novel of intricate subtly and slight of hand -- things are not always as they seem. In the afterword, Vyleta says: "My primary interest in this book belonged with the arm of opportunists whose crimes were at times as grave in their consequences as those perpetrated by the true believers. Sixty-five years after the Second World War it is easy for most of us to convince ourselves we could never have belonged amongst those who would have held wrong-headed beliefs; it is a more nagging question to wonder what one might have done in order to secure some modicum of social and material success."

Set in a claustrophobic apartment block the novel's vividly-rendered characters watch their neighbors and speculate about the violent going-ons so that what is public and what is private is called into question -- threat builds and the bodies mount up, but the assumptions drawn, by reader and characters alike, shift and then shift again. It's masterfully done.

The tone of the novel, the shrouded backdrop of National Socialism and all that implies -- so rancid and corrosive -- acts as another central character. Mood and atmosphere simply ooze off the pages. There are shades of "Rear Window" here, if that play had been written by Goebbels.

HIGHLY recommended. ( )
  Laurenbdavis | Jan 1, 2013 |
The Quiet Twin is an interesting work of literary fiction, with a layered plot built around the actions of unusual and compelling characters. This mystery, set in the ominous atmosphere of Nazi controlled Vienna, leaves the reader with questions, making it a good candidate for book club discussions. ( )
  JGoto | Aug 13, 2012 |
This is an extremely well written book set in Vienna in 1939. The plot and the murders actually seem more of a background to the paranoia that surrounded those who felt they had something to fear from Hitler and his SS. A time when a knock on the door was a frightening event, and the people inhabiting an apartment building surrounding a courtyard, find much to occupy themselves with by spying on the others living in the complex. Small nuances take on a sinister tone when a dog is killed and four women are found dead. It seems that everyone has something to hide in this darkly complex novel. ( )
  Beamis12 | Mar 16, 2012 |
The Quiet Twin is quietly and intensely unsettling; it does everything that a good story is meant to do.

And what is that exactly? I've got more to say here. ( )
  buriedinprint | Nov 26, 2011 |
Showing 5 of 5
The Quiet Twin is a sharp and confident novel that captures the social paranoia and mistrust fomented by Nazism. At the novel's outset, startled by a doorbell, Dr Beer "jumped and feared arrest, irrationally" – an adverb that speaks of the timid doctor steadying his nerves with logic against the insidious but explicit criminalisation of the times.

Regardless of whodunit, Vyleta's subtly engaging thriller is tense with violent acts that are, perhaps above all else, a manifestation of the era's anxieties.
 
The Quiet Twin obviously relates most powerfully and metaphorically to the rise of the Nazi regime and its horrors; as millions remained silent in the face of all that went on, mute, paralyzed, while their countrymen, those whose faces often looked just like their own, went on to commit atrocities on a scale that still seems almost incomprehensible; the Freudian manifestation of the other (terrible) self.

Vyleta’s second novel is truly a work of art; his deft manipulation of narrative and characters (and readers), a master class in psychological sleight of hand. Although it’s early days yet, The Quiet Twin may well turn out to be one of the best — and most quietly disturbing — books of the year.
 
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Epigraph
And I will take a further secret to the grave: that I once observed Mother, how she secretly went into the cellar larder, cut herself a thick slice of ham and ate it downstairs, standing up, with her hands, hurriedly , it didn't even look repulsive, just surprising, I was more touched than appalled. [...] Curiously enough, I like those of whose kind I am: human beings.

Heinrich Boll , A Clown's Perspectives
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For Mom and Dad, who taught me to take joy in life.
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He had not quite finished dressing when he heard the knock on the door.
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In Nazi-occupied Vienna, a string of unsolved murders has thrown the residents of one apartment building into a state of uneasy watchfulness. Anton Beer, a young doctor who has made a study of forensic psychology, is asked by the retired Professor Speckstein to investigate. It is an unwelcome request: Speckstein’s job is to spy on the building’s residents for the Nazis, and Doctor Beer has his own reasons for keeping his private life hidden from public scrutiny. When Beer discovers a paralyzed young woman in a neighbour’s apartment, his life is further complicated. The woman is unable to talk and deathly ill, and Beer, whose own wife has recently left him, smuggles her into his home to nurse her in secret.

As the story unfolds in propulsive, gripping prose, Dan Vyleta captures the atmosphere of paranoia and suspicion that was part of encroaching Nazi culture, and explores our disturbing instinct in times of threat to turn a blind eye to uncomfortable realities. The darkest mystery at the heart of this astonishing novel reveals itself to be not a question of whodunit so much as the temper of a diseased society in which every person’s actions are infected by the possibility of evil.
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"In Nazi-occupied Vienna, a string of unsolved murders has thrown the residents of one apartment building into a state of uneasy watchfulness. Anton Beer, a young doctor who has made a study of forensic psychology, is asked by the retired Professor Speckstein to investigate. It is an unwelcome request: Speckstein's job is to spy on the building's residents for the Nazis, and Doctor Beer has his own reasons for keeping his private life hidden from public scrutiny. When Beer discovers a paralyzed young woman in a neighbor's apartment, his life is further complicated. The woman is unable to talk and deathly ill, and Beer, whose own wife has recently left him, smuggles her into his home to nurse her in secret."--Publisher.… (more)

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