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Author of AGAINST A DARKENING SKY, THE EMPTY ROOM, OUR DAILY BREAD, and others. Find out more at www.LaurenBDavis.com. I read as if my sanity depended upon it.. . . oh, wait, it does! Snort.

The Quiet Twin: A Novel

The Quiet Twin: A Novel - Dan Vyleta 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.