Vienna Blood

Written by Frank Tallis
Review by Ilysa Magnus

In this, the second installment of the Liebermann Papers, Tallis, a practicing clinical psychologist, beautifully evokes the upheaval in the highest echelons of Viennese society at the turn of the 20th century.

Max Liebermann is a clinical psychologist, a protégé of sorts of Freud, and the closest friend and confidant of Detective Oscar Rheinhardt. When Rheinhardt is asked to investigate a grisly quadruple homicide reminiscent of Jack the Ripper, he calls upon Max to assist in the investigation and to develop a psychological profile of the killer. What kind of mind is driven to such unspeakable acts of horror, Rheinhardt wants to know, and can he be stopped before committing additional atrocities?

Before the pair is able to figure out the pattern, other murders are committed – but what is the underlying cohesive connector here? Max and Oscar, both also trying to live their own lives and sort out their priorities, are thrust into the world of secret societies that threatens the very underpinnings of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and their own lives and principles.

This is not one of those breezy mysteries, but a disturbing, dark voyage into the Vienna of 100 years ago, a world on the brink of dramatic change. Tallis is impressive in his ability to develop what sometimes becomes a complex plotline, and the subtexts and super-texts add to the drama. Max and Oscar are a terrific pair, playing off one another with dexterity. Vienna becomes a virtual character in this book – a place with a soul, peopled by angels and demons.

I enjoyed this book immensely and highly recommend it.