In the dynamic and dangerous Vienna of 1903, a brilliant psychoanalyst and a brave detective battle to catch criminals who commit the most clever and brutal crimes.
Detective Inspector Oskar Reinhardt finds that young women are being slain in an unnerving—and ingenious—manner, with a small, almost undetectable, hat pin. For Dr. Max Liebermann, the killer is unique in the annals of psychopathology, one who murders in the midst of consensual love. Is the culprit a patient, one who swears he has a double, a shadow figure that is far more forward (in fact, indecent) with women? As danger mounts, Liebermann must find the answer while struggling with his own forbidden desire for a female patient.
A so-so serial killer story line mars British author Tallis's fifth novel pairing Viennese psychoanalyst Max Liebermann and Det. Insp. Oskar Rheinhardt (after 2010's Vienna Secrets). When someone drives a hatpin into the brain of a 19-year-old artist's model, Adele Zeiler, Liebermann, a colleague of Sigmund Freud, helps with the murder inquiry. Zeiler is but the first victim of a sick individual who appears to carry out his precise executions as part of a perverse sexual ritual. With the killings causing a panic in Vienna, Rheinhardt's boss is impatient for results even before the Austrian emperor expresses frustration that the crimes remain unsolved. The two companionable main characters, who share a love for music, will remind Patrick O'Brian fans of Aubrey and Maturin, but the few less-than-shocking twists aren't enough to distinguish this from the many serial killer historicals that have tried to repeat the success of Caleb Carr's The Alienist.