Vienna Blood : (Liebermann Papers 2) The gripping murder mystery set in turn of the century Venice, Paperback Book

Vienna Blood : (Liebermann Papers 2) The gripping murder mystery set in turn of the century Venice Paperback

Part of the Liebermann Papers series

4.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


In the grip of a Siberian winter in 1902, a serial killer in Vienna embarks upon a bizarre campaign of murder.

Vicious mutilation, a penchant for arcane symbols, and a seemingly random choice of victim are his most distinctive peculiarities.

Detective Inspector, Oskar Rheinhardt summons a young disciple of Freud - his friend Dr. Max Liebermann - to assist him with the case. The investigation draws them into the sphere of Vienna's secret societies - a murky underworld of German literary scholars, race theorists, and scientists inspired by the new evolutionary theories coming out of England.

At first, the killer's mind seems impenetrable - his behaviour and cryptic clues impervious to psychoanalytic interpretation; however, gradually, it becomes apparent that an extraordinary and shocking rationale underlies his actions...Against this backdrop of mystery and terror, Liebermann struggles with his own demons.

The treatment of a patient suffering from paranoia erotica and his own fascination with the enigmatic Englishwoman Amelia Lydgate raise doubts concerning the propriety of his imminent marriage. To resolve the dilemma, he must entertain the unthinkable - risking disgrace and accusations of cowardice.


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I picked up Mortal Mischief, the first volume of the Liebermann Papers, in a secondhand bookshop in March on a whim, and so far it’s been the happiest accident of my reading year. To the experienced reader of murder mysteries, Tallis’ plots, while involving (and rather grisly at times), may not stump completely. But these stories set in turn of the century Vienna are elevated for two other reasons. Firstly the characters: inevitably for a psychiatrist, Tallis creates villains with complex motivations whose actions are understandable, if not forgiveable. His heroes are sympathetic, and even after two books, are becoming like old friends. Max Liebermann, whose adherence to Freud’s new-minted theories of dream interpretation and psychoanalysis give him Holmes-like intuition – which he often fails to apply to his own personal life. His friend Oskar Reinhold, inspector with the security office, he of the rich baritone voice, waxed moustache and hopeless sweet tooth. Amelia Lydgate, the reserved English bluestocking who serves as a prototype forensic pathologist for the pair (and who seems blithely unaware that Liebermann is falling in love with her).Secondly, there is the evocation of Vienna in 1902, both as a physical location and as a place in time. Tallis brings to life a city at the heart of an empire that unbeknownst to itself is crumbling. Anti-Semetic and Pan-Germanist political movements are on the rise, and in reaction Zionism is being preached in the Jewish community. Mahler and Klimt are scandalising the establishment, Modernist design is taking its first steps, and Freud is just starting to get his teeth into human sexuality. Throughout Vienna Blood objects familiar to the modern reader are revelations to the characters. Liebermann is gobsmacked at the sight of his first electric torch; Miss Lydgate devours a brand new ‘scientific romance’ from England – HG Wells’ The Time Machine. Not all of these discoveries are pleasant: our heroes puzzle for some time over a strange symbol found at a murder scene which to us is depressingly recognisable – a swastika.Tallis plans seven books in this series (the third, Fatal Lies, was published this year), finishing in 1914, and I can’t wait to see how these characters cope with the huge political, cultural and scientific changes coming their way. So long as I’ve got a plate of nibbles to hand – all those descriptions of Viennese pastries give you the serious munchies…

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