The Ravens of Vienna

Written by Adrian Grafe
Review by Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Felix Lichtblau is a banker in World War II Vienna, using his position to bribe Nazi officials at the same time as he works for the underground resistance to loosen the Nazis’ grip on power. But things are becoming increasingly difficult for him, his wife (whom several Nazi officials have pursued), and his two sons. Through the intervention of a professor at Oxford, his wife, sons, and the teenage son of a family friend make a harrowing escape while Felix remains behind. He pits two Nazi officers against each other and carries out other acts of sabotage with the help of a shadowy drug dealer and two brothers of questionable loyalty until, toward the end of the war, with the Soviets advancing, he too must flee.

This novel is filled with action and intrigue that will keep readers guessing. Who is an ally, and who is a spy or betrayer? In this way, The Ravens of Vienna appeals to fans of World War II-era thrillers. The author includes several women characters who became spies and resistance fighters, acknowledging the key role women played in challenging Nazi rule and protecting those the Nazis targeted. He focuses mainly on the male characters, though, and there are many. While Felix is at the center of all the characters’ relationships, the ever-shifting timelines and points of view over the course of three years make it hard to tell whose story this really is. A closer focus on a few characters would have made this fast-paced novel even more engaging.