Vienna Blood

Vienna Blood by Frank Tallis.  More than 5,000 miles and eight time zones separate Vancouver and Vienna, but these differences pale in comparison to the dissimilarities between Rowse’s and Tallis’ works, though both are set in almost the exact same time.  Blood opens with a most unusual killing, the dissection of a thirty-foot anaconda in the Emperor’s zoological gardens, and continues as a madman attempts to execute his demonic plan. Tallis writes that 1900 Vienna was “the most civilized city in Europe . . . [but] was undoubtedly repressive with respect to the formation of societies and associations.”  Therefore, these groups, such as the Freemasons and early Aryan and Pan-German orders, flourished in secret and the city “attracted intrigue, conspiracy, and sedition.”  It is in this setting that the second mystery featuring Freudian psychologist Dr. Max Liebermann and Detective Oskar Rheinhardt takes place.  As in the previous story in the series, A Death in Vienna, it is less sound detective work, but rather Liebermann’s work with his patients and colleagues that eventually leads to clues which help solve the case.

Tallis continues to provide wonderfully vivid descriptions of Vienna with extensive references to its musical heritage and its robust and decadent pastries.  Almost nary a page goes by without a mention of one or the other.  Liebermann’s relationships with his fiancée, Clara, and his ex-patient, Miss Lydgate, are further developed, though disappointingly we see less of either man’s families than in the first book.  Although I was not as happy with this story as I was with the first, I am sufficiently intrigued enough to continue with this series when the third book comes out later this summer.

For another mystery set in early 20th-century Vienna, try Jody Shields’ The Fig Eater.  I haven’t read it yet, but it received an excellent review at WRL’s Blogging for a Good Book.

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