Random House, Jan 2008, $14.95
In the winter of 1902, Vienna Police Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt is working on the high profile case of who slaughtered the royal anaconda at the Tiergarten Zoo when his superiors yank him off that investigation. Instead he is assigned to lead the inquiry into who is killing prostitutes; as several victims have suddenly been found in the frozen city streets. The killer leaves brazen cross-like marks on his victims that lead Oskar to believe one clever diabolical person is responsible.
He knows he needs special help on this strange case witch as far as he knows has no local precedent although there is some experience in London of an apparent mentally sick yet brilliant predator. He asks Freudian adherent Dr. Max Liebermann, who collaborated with him on A DEATH IN VIENNA, to provide him insight into the culprit’s mind so that they can put together a pattern and find the killer. Max realizes that the serial homicides ties into Mozart’s classic The Magic Flute, but why and who remains unknown as more hookers are killed.
Readers will believe they are visiting Freud’s Vienna at an exciting time in the city even if the Empire is tottering on the brink of extinction as Frank Tallis through the actions of his serial killer and the collaborative team bring the turn of the century to life. Although the police procedural is fun to follow with its link to Mozart even if it is somewhat obvious to the reader, this prime plot actually enhances the vivid look at the still thriving capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1902 as historical fans will fully treasure the tour though paved with blood.