In Freud’s dangerous, dazzling Vienna of 1903, an ingenious doctor and an intrepid detective again challenge psychotic criminals across a landscape teetering between the sophisticated and the savage, the thrilling future and the primitive past.
On opposite sides of the city, two men are found beheaded on church grounds. Detective Inspector Oskar Reinhardt is baffled. Could the killer be mentally ill, someone the victims came into contact with? Some are even blaming the murders on the devil. But when psychoanalyst Dr. Max Liebermann learns that both victims were vocal members of a shadowy anti-Semitic group, he turns his gaze to the city’s close-knit Hasidic community. The doctor is drawn into an urban underworld that hosts and hides virulent racists on one side and followers of kabbalah on the other. And as the evidence—and bodies—pile up, Liebermann must reconsider his own path, the one that led him away from the miraculous and toward a life of the mind.
Tallis's excellent fourth puzzler set in early 20th-century Vienna (after 2008's Fatal Lies) neatly blends mystery and history. A scary series of murders, which may have a supernatural component, challenge psychiatrist Max Liebermann and Det. Insp. Oskar Rheinhardt. Two men, both with a track record of anti-Semitism, have turned up dead, their heads ripped from their bodies by some powerful force beyond the capacity of a single killer. The first, Brother Stanislav, was a regular contributor to Das Vaterland, a right-wing Catholic newspaper, and spoke at a rally that ended with the fatal stabbing of a young Jewish boy. The second victim, city councillor Burke Faust, had also fomented hatred. An important clue comes from a witness who heard a whirring sound, like a giant insect near one crime scene. Meanwhile, Liebermann's defense of a dying patient's rights puts him at odds with the Catholic church. Fans of Caleb Carr will feel right at home.