The year is 1902, and the city of Vienna is being terrorized by a serial killer whose brutal murders seem to have no reason or connection between them. Baffled by the strange cross-like symbol the killer leaves at his first crime and stunned by the sheer ferocity of the murders, Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt calls upon the aid of his young friend, Dr. Max Liebermann, a specialist in Freudian psychology. Together they work to uncover the mystery behind the madmanís motivation to commit such atrocities. As their investigation takes them through all parts of the city and society, they discover that the darkness of manís actions can only be surpassed by the darkness of his mind.
As Volume Two of "The Liebermann Papers," Vienna Blood is the sequel to author Frank Tallisís debut, A Death in Vienna. While the main characters of Detective Oskar Rheinhardt and Dr. Max Liebermann make a return, itís not necessary to have read the first in order to understand and gain enjoyment from this sequel. The story stands on its own; whatís more, it is a fascinating, intelligent and finely crafted book.
The city of Vienna, with its beauty and mystery, is described in brilliant detail so that the smallest nuances in things such as architecture and streetlamps make it as whole and essential to the plot as any of the characters. From quaint coffeehouses to the opulent opera house to the underground sewers, all aspects of the city are explored, and therein the people who inhabit and frequent these places, which includes a number of secret societies, adding a deeper layer of mystery to the city built on secrets. The mentality held by one of these societies also gives insight to the origin of the ideals that would later be embraced by the Nazi party, and it is just as disturbing to see them in this young stage knowing the horrors that they would later produce.
Present in Vienna Blood are a host of characters who are richly written. Among them are a number of viable suspects who keep the reader guessing as to which of them exactly is behind the heinous crimes. Rheinhardt and Liebermann play wonderfully off each other with their individual styles of detection and opposite personalities, though Liebermann does steal a bit more of the show with his high intellect, cool mannerisms and troubled personal life. As a cautionary note to readers, Rheinhardt has a penchant for sweets and pastries, and these are described in such succulent detail, itís advisable to keep a few treats nearby because the sweet tooth is triggered simply by reading. Music also plays an important role in the story, whether being sung as a pastime or delivering clues, and with the precision itís written, author Tallis takes great care in being knowledgeable about classical music. This is also how everything is with the book - itís clear that it was very well researched.
With each page turned, the intensity of the novel grows. Even when the perpetrator is revealed, catching him is another matter, making it impossible to put the book down during the last hundred pages, and how the murder picks his victims is one of the most interesting concepts used behind creating a serial killerís pattern. The story is written in the style of a classic whodunit, and its use of psychoanalysis and the themes presented make it a wholly unique work. The charismatic crime-fighting duo in Rheinhardt and Liebermann make Vienna Blood a book that must be picked up by all who enjoy a gripping mystery.